I’m Not Quite Ready

This is my son. In a few short weeks he will be 18 years old, and in a few short months, he will be living away from us during his first year of college. 

I’m not quite ready. 

He was born to me in 2000, when his dad and I were just babies ourselves. We had no idea what we were doing, and we had no idea how we were going to manage pouring love into someone so tiny. 

I’m not quite ready. 

Nathaniel has always been my biggest challenger, and one of my greatest gifts. He’s a whiz at math, taught himself to play cello when lessons weren’t coming fast enough for him, and holds on to his love of dancing, even when he thinks that he’s just not into it any longer. 

I’m not quite ready. 

He’s also gone through some of the biggest growing pains in the last year. Searching out relationships, learning more about what he wants to do in life, and exhibiting the ennui of people his age on a daily basis. 

I’m not quite ready. 

We’ll act like everything is fine when he graduates. I’ll pretend that I’m not losing a large part of how I became who most people see today. A fighter. An intercessor. A warden. A nurse. A confidant. A mother. 

I’m not quite ready. 

These last four years have seen us seemingly grow farther apart, but I know in my heart of hearts that he doesn’t hate me, and that I don’t hate him. No matter how much we may scream it in our cells. In the very fiber of our being. When both sets of our eyes are bloodshot from the tears, or general frustration of the other. 

I’m not quite ready. 

It’s weird that I don’t quite see the adult just yet – knowing full well that with a layer or two, he will emerge. Confident on the outside, but maybe still needing his mom to help our every now and again. I want to know that everything that I’ve attempted to teach him over the years has actually settled into the deepest recesses of his brain. I know that I’ve gotten a lot of eye-rolling, a ton of NSFW thoughts while I lecture, and even some idle threats mumbled under the breath while he took controlled steps to his room. He is a teenager guys. 

I’m not ready. 

My kid is being released into the world with the instructions to do his best. While I do want him to make us proud, my first requirement is for him to be proud of himself. Of the effort that he puts forth each day. If he isn’t, then he shouldn’t retire to sleep until he is. Because our most important task while on this Earth is to be proud of our efforts, and the effort we put into making the day brighter for at least ONE person. No matter how annoyed he may get with me, he knows that he can always call me or his dad to scoop him up. That’s not to say that we won’t make him face consequences, but we’ll be there to give him the best guidance that we can. 

I’m STILL not quite ready. 

I have four more months to get ready though. To try to squeeze in those last moments before he starts to establish the breakaway from us. The last ticks on the clock until I no longer have an almost adult in my house and go back to children 10 and under. Not having to buy clothes for another adult. Or pay for three adults when we go out for dinner. I won’t have to pay for an adult ticket at the movies, or even when we enter theme parks or zoos. All of this should provide some sort of relief, and I’m certain that down the line it will, but for now, I’m just going to sit in amazement as I try to figure out how 18 years got away from me so quickly. 

How in the midst of all that has gone on – births, deaths, marriages, funerals – he has managed to grow up right in front of my eyes. Pushing the envelope as much as he can before promptly being put back where he needs to be with instructions to try again in a few years. 

I’m going to miss the declarations of “hotness” and the need to sleep for hours on end because the simple act of being is exhausting. I’m going to miss the times in which we all break through that exterior of titanium and pull out a laugh. 

Simply put, I’m going to miss this kid. 

Still…I’m not quite ready. 

Parents of adult children – hit me with your best advice in the comment section. I’m sure I’ll be coming back often to reference it. You’re a peach. 

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14 Comments

  • Reply
    Clarissa
    April 18, 2018 at 7:46 pm

    This is beautiful friend. You are saying many of the things I already feel and my son is only soon to be 14. I don’t know if as parents you are ever truly ready to let your kids go (no matter how old they are). Watching them grow up is definitely bittersweet. Hugs to you.

    • Reply
      Natasha Nicholes
      April 19, 2018 at 8:31 am

      It literally went in the blink of an eye. It’s SO FREAKING CLICHE – but time speeds up the older you get. I mean, when we were kids, 18 years seemed to DRAG! As soon as I hit 21, years were like HEY! BYE! HERE’S ANOTHER ONE! SEE YA! And I know that it’s going to happen for him too – especially since I see it happening with my brothers.

  • Reply
    Melisa
    April 19, 2018 at 6:31 am

    I love this post.
    The truth is, part of the reason teen-to-parent relationships are so cantankerous is because they have already started the separation process and we don’t want to look it in the face. I think the transition was scary to us before it happened, and while we had our sad moments, Jim and I were surprised at how okay we were with it once it happened.

    My biggest advice is to work on your feelings of “Ok, the husband and I did a great job raising this boy. While he’ll make mistakes, his foundation is strong and it’s all going to be okay.”

    Also, if you think you’re almost done paying for that third adult at restaurants and movies, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! You’re adorable.

    Hang in there. Soon he’ll be finding his own way and your relationship will advance to the next level, which is mostly amazing. Love you!

    • Reply
      Natasha Nicholes
      April 19, 2018 at 8:35 am

      LET ME HAVE MY MISDIRECTED THOUGHTS FRIEND!!!!

      Also, this is hard. More parents need to acknowledge that this is harder than we make it seem AFTER we’ve come out no worse for wear.

      • Reply
        Melisa
        April 19, 2018 at 10:20 am

        LOL! You wanted advice! Come on, I’m cute.

    • Reply
      GaNeane Lewis
      May 20, 2018 at 4:42 pm

      Melissa, I wasn’t going to burst her bubble! I am STILL buying for adults!

  • Reply
    Vikki
    April 19, 2018 at 7:33 am

    Beautiful. Makes me think of my own son who is just a year behind yours and all that lies ahead. Sending you all love as you move on to what’s next.

    • Reply
      Natasha Nicholes
      April 19, 2018 at 8:35 am

      Thank you Vikki! Hopefully, I’ll have words of wisdom for you when it’s your turn!

  • Reply
    Tamara
    April 19, 2018 at 9:10 am

    Love this piece, Natasha. I have sent one to college and now our middle leaves this fall like your son. My best advice is to not put your emotions and missing him on him, to keep things positive and to keep the bond strong with simple texts, love boxes to college and your welcoming heart. I missed my son so much during his four years ago and longed to talk with him more, but he needed to do his thing. I am lucky he came home to live for a few months until he figures out his income vs. college loans and grownup costs. My middle will be hard. She has been my snuggler and our princess but also my hardest child who doesn’t understand no and will argue with me until I end up screaming. My heart is already tearing apart. OK, not the best advice, but I am starting to tear up, soooo…. Good luck to your handsome son and to you.

  • Reply
    Tracey Becker
    April 19, 2018 at 9:25 am

    I remember crying as I held Justin when he was a newborn, predicting just how painful a loss it would be when he left us someday. The process is so strange… most mammals’ offspring don’t suddenly leave like humans do. It’s natural to feel it is UNnatural… sending you lots of love.

  • Reply
    A Real Urban Mom
    April 20, 2018 at 11:51 am

    No advice but just hugs. Stay strong mama!

  • Reply
    Michelle Garrett
    May 13, 2018 at 10:16 pm

    Our stories are so similar and I’m so thankful our paths crossed so I can learn with you as we enter this new territory and season of our lives. (((HUGS)))

  • Reply
    GaNeane Lewis
    May 20, 2018 at 4:40 pm

    We are never ready. My girls are good and grown at 24 and 26 and I still think of them as my babies. When they finally moved out I will admit that my very first thought was, oh so now I have to wash all the dishes??? But the reality is that they left a void in so many little ways.

    It DOES get easier. I promise. The best part is relating to them as adults. Yes, that respect and fear is still there (if you put it there to begin with) but we can laugh together now at those jokes that would have been inappropriate with a child but are hilarious with an adult. I see them having grown up thoughts and ideas and I am proud .

    But…. Your worries change, also. You are no longer controlling their whereabouts The hardest is you don’t get to control who has access to them, and their heart. You have to stand by and let them learn the same lessons we had to learn. Because they still won’t be trying to hear it from us. You do have to be there to pick up the pieces. No matter how old they are.

    It’s a beautiful thing and a hard thing. Ultimately, it’s a great thing !I love my relationship with my daughters now. So much better than the teen years.

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