Yes. He’s REALLY leaving.

I’ve wanted to write a post about our 16-year-old leaving for his year-long exchange to Finland for a long time. However, I didn’t want the post to turn out to be a wandering rambling of a mother’s sadness and despair that her first child was leaving the nest—and at 16! Oh, I know it’s not forever. I know “he’ll be back,” as friends and family so kindly offer when I get all lip-quivery and weird.

But he’s still leaving. And will be gone for ONE YEAR. We will go visit him, but the plan is not set yet—it will be sometime in the spring. No plan=no control. I don’t know how you are with letting go. As for me, I’d say I’m slowly and steadily working on it.

Yesterday I meditated on the idea. My stomach was feeling nervous and life seemed to be coming at me way too fast. It’s summer! Isn’t summer supposed to be slow walks and flip flops… ice creams and long, leisurely days at the beach where you don’t do much other than stare off at the horizon? Ha, yes, maybe in a different world. Or maybe for me in my past life. But this summer has been a roller coaster ride of this and that (I won’t bore you with the details), leading up to the inevitable August 4 date where we will drop Andy at some as-yet-unamed airport within a few hours of our house so that he can fly east into the sky to the mysterious Finns.

Anyway, my stomach was flip-flopping, and we were due at a picnic in just a few minutes, so I knew I needed to calm down. Mind over matter is something I truly believe in. I swung into the hammock on the back porch and clicked on one of the first podcasts I saw—I was in a hurry, after all. It happened to be one called “Your Inner Master” by Peace in My Pocket Guided Meditations. The guide first relaxed me in her soothing voice, helping me to let go of my body so that I could find the essential part of me that gets lost on a regular basis. She then took me into a beautiful forest to a warm, inviting cottage, where I met a beatific creature who made me feel blissful and loved… and real, somehow. Guess who it turned out to be?

My higher self.

Oh ho, where has she been my whole life? She was beautiful, but sort of looked like me (even though I wouldn’t call myself beautiful). She was glowing with a light that cascaded out of her every pore and onto the floor and furniture around her. I only had eyes for her. As she slowly came toward me, I leaned forward, arms outstretched, anxious to hear whatever it was she might say. I strained forward, ears open, eyes wide, listening, watching, taking in every aspect of her. She opened her mouth… but then closed it again and smiled a little smile, as if to say, “Can’t you be patient, Domini? Can’t you wait even a moment to hear what I have to say?”

She then spoke. In a quiet voice, reminiscent of mine but also nothing like any earthly creature. What were the words I wanted to desperately to hear?

…Let go… 

She whispered the words. I waited for more but that was it: Let go. 

Let go? That’s all she had to say? She stepped back, still smiling, and faded into a movie-like mist that seemed to come out of nowhere. And then the meditation guide was telling me to leave the cottage, go back up the beautiful forest trail, and start to come back into my body. Great. I finally got to meet my higher self but wasn’t given time for Q&A. I only had two words from her: Let Go. There you go, Sister. There you go. But now you’re on your own.

I got up from the hammock and left the house. Went to the party, smiled and chatted and drank a ginger ale. All with the whispered memory of her words ricocheting through my head.

I know my higher self wanted me to let go of Andy. Cut the apron strings and let him fly off to Finland and his new life. Andy is a bright, capable young man who knows where he’s headed. He’s at that time in a young person’s life when he needs to find himself on the other side of the door from his family, be given the time to make his own decisions, take his own risks, and forge his own path. It’s tough love, for sure, but he’s at that time where he knows too much about how it all works and needs to get to the cold, lonely spot where he realizes he doesn’t know. And only then will things begin to flow for him in his soon-to-be-adult life. His dad and I… we’re his shelter from the storms of life. But someday we won’t be there to shelter him and he’ll need to find strength in himself. It’s there, but he hasn’t had to use it since we always flexed our muscles before he got the chance.

I can still remember vividly the image of Andy as a little slip of a baby, with his chubby cheeks and ready smile. His round little face was cute as a button. Even at two, he was always the one to bring peace into the room. Even before he was verbal, he could smile in a way that had you knowing he was on your side.

Let go. The Buddha said, “Whatever is not yours: let go of it. Your letting go of it will be for your long-term happiness and benefit.”

Let go. Abandon my ego, leave my need for control behind. Let go. Surrender to the higher intelligence, my own higher self. Let go. And remember that very little belongs to me. My children don’t belong to me–they belong to themselves and, although I get to enjoy them for a short time, in the end, they are unique human beings who must live and learn independently on their own.

So I’m letting my son go. Letting him go to Finland and beyond. I can’t be in control of my family in the same way I’m used to in my mothering. I need to let Andy grow into his own person. And that means, at least for now, that he won’t be by my side. He will go on to bigger and better things, things he can only learn by looking within himself.

Andy, I love you. And, because I love you, I’m letting you go.