On Saturday, I dropped my son at his first day of work. I'm not too embarrassed to say I shed a tear, and it wasn't even when he asked me to drop him a little distance off the actual destination so he could skateboard the rest of the way.
It's a milestone, I explained to him on the drive to drop him and his skateboard off. Just like when he got and lost his first tooth, said his first word, and had his first sleepover.
The little boy who I hovered over like I was aiming for the world standard in helicopter parenting, the timid young boy who looked to me for permission and assurance is no more. In his place stands a strong, confident young man who went out and applied for the part-time job he wanted and then called me to tell me he had a job interview lined up. And then he got the job.
Of course I'm proud of him and it's awesome to be in his presence as the excitement of his job almost radiates outwards from within him. He is almost as pleased with himself as I am with him. But it's a hard milestone to navigate, this one.
All his life I have been that very involved mother. I have worn my helicopter label with pride because I cannot imagine raising him any other way. He is the most important part of my life and I embrace that, I show it to him too and, just quietly, it seems to have worked out really well.
But, because of the relationship we've had and the pivotal role both my husband and I have played in his day-to-day life, we have been across almost all the things he encounters. Of course he's grown up and had thousands of adventures and experiences where we probably don't even know half the details but we have an idea. We know his friends, we have met his teachers, we consider his taekwondo instructors extended family. All of his experiences have been in our orbit.
But not this job. He owns this job.
He organised it on his own, he went to the interview and sorted out payment and details and uniforms. He did the training online and he grew up just a little bit more. With a bank of knowledge and experience I will never share with him.
I've never met the person who will be his manager, nor his work colleagues. I haven't seen the inside of the place where he works and I don't control his roster. (S**t!)
The people he will work with will never know the mother or the family behind the scenes. They will never know the stories of his growing up and of my overbearing love and helicopter tendencies. All that I have clung to and all that I have worried about, will mean nothing to them -- they will just see him as he is -- a gorgeous, strong, confident young man.
It seems like a huge leap where a little boy goes from just being "our son" to being an independent person in his own right. It's a leap we have been getting ourselves in the ready position for from the day we met him, something we set in motion from the time we decided to have him. It's happened slowly, over time but all of a sudden it feels very real.