My second son has been living at home for the past five years, after completing two years of college at a faraway university. For the first two years he was home, he worked as a teacher's aide (paraprofessional) with autistic children at our local middle school. After that, he spent two years finishing his undergraduate degree in secondary math education at the state university very close to where we live. And finally, last year he did his teaching internship at a nearby high school and got his master's degree. (You may remember that I wrote about this son and the odyssey that brought him to this point in his life in my May 22 post called "God Has a Plan.") Within less than a month of earning his master's, my son was hired--after his very first interview--to teach math at an excellent public high school about an hour and 15 minutes from our home.
My husband and I are absolutely thrilled for our boy, and we think this job is going to be a wonderful opportunity for him. That's the sweet part. The bitter part is that he is packing up his things--clearing his room right out--and moving into his own apartment this weekend; and as much as I know that this is good and right and a step he needs to take, here is my problem: I'm going to miss him!
But back to the sweet again. For years I've been begging this son to throw out the old baseball caps he never wears anymore--the ones that are stiff and greasy and filthy and sweat-stained--but I couldn't get him to do it. He stubbornly hung onto them, even after they were no longer fit to wear in public. He's had them hanging on a Shaker peg rack in his room, showcased as if they were trophies. This boy is never without a baseball cap, unless he's in church (and I assume as a teacher he won't be able to wear one in the classroom, either). He always gets fresh new ones to replace the gross ones--so why couldn't he just throw the old ones out when he was through with them? Those yucky caps have been the bane of my existence for years.
Well, yesterday I was working in the basement while my son was packing, and his voice floated down to me. "Mom, come here. I have a present for you on the kitchen table." I hustled up the stairs, filled with curiosity, and guess what my "present" was? Those disgusting ball caps, sitting there in a heap! "I can throw them out?" I asked with awe in my voice, hardly daring to belive this was happening. "Yep," he said, "even the white one with the mud stains on it. The one I was wearing that time G___ got jumped by those guys, and I had to get into the middle of the fight and break it up."
Delirious with joy, I scooped up the grungy caps and dumped them in the kitchen trash can...but then I looked down at that mud-splattered white one with the shamrock embroidered on it, the one my son was wearing when he helped out a buddy, and I reached down to rescue it from extinction. How could I let him throw that one away, when it held a memory about an experience shared with a friend from his first two years of college? Out of all those caps, this was the only one with any sentimental value at all. "Why don't you hang onto this one a little longer," I said, and he smiled and decided he would. (Perhaps now you can see that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, because Mom has trouble letting go of things, too.)
But hats off to you, my sweet boy! You're taking the next big steps in life, moving into your own place and starting a new career; and the fact that you're finally ready to part with your unsightly cap collection just convinces me more than ever that you're ready for new beginnings.