Typical of many moms, I graduated from college, began a career, got married, started a family, and then quit my job to become a full-time mom.
As a child, I remember wanting to be one of four things when I grew up; a park ranger, someone who worked with baby animals in a zoo, a school teacher, and a mom.
My grandfather was a park ranger in the summers and a school principal in the winters. He was a park ranger at Crater Lake and Glacier National Parks and Colorado National Monument. I never knew him as he died in 1958, five years before I was born. However, he passed his love of the outdoors to my father who raised me with a great appreciation for the outdoors.
I started backpacking when I was five and snow skiing when I was seven. I spent many days and nights at two lake cabins in southern Oregon. At one I learned to water ski, roast marshmallows around a campfire, and sunbathe on the dock. At the other I played in the water, hunted for tiny frogs, and caught and released chipmunks.
As I write this I’m sitting on a rock on the bank of the Gallatin River in Montana. It is peaceful with the sound of the ripples and birds. My husband is fly fishing, and I’ve taken many pictures today. This is peace for me. I never pursued the forest ranger path, but many of my happiest memories throughout my life are from times spent outdoors.
My grandmother was a school teacher. Her first job was in a one room school house in Lakeview, Oregon. She loved teaching so much that she retired four times before she retired for good. She gave me textbooks and supplies to play “school” with. I was particularly excited about the teacher copy that went with the reading book. As I got older I decided I liked children more than baby animals. I graduated from college with a degree in elementary education and within a year had a job teaching first grade. I enjoyed teaching, but I still had a strong desire to be a mom.
I always knew I’d be a mom someday. I imagined a family with six kids and gave them names. In reality, my husband and I had two baby boys. I quit teaching when boy number two was born. I consider myself lucky to have dedicated twenty one years to the full attention of my boys.
So, now it’s hard to believe that I am here in Montana getting ready to say goodbye to my youngest as he starts his freshman year of college.
As parents we raise our children to know right from wrong, think on their own, be responsible and independent. We have to trust that our lessons have sunk in and that they will make good choices, be safe, and be happy. Every year we’ve relinquished a little control and influence over them. However, the jump to college is like a leap across the Grand Canyon. We may never know the parents of their new friends or what time they get back to their room at night. Every day they’ll make choices and decisions without us knowing. There will even be days we don’t talk or text each other.
Tomorrow I have to say goodbye to Keaton. I’ll give him a hug and a kiss, tell him to make good choices, be safe, and be happy. I know he will, but I still have to do my job as a mom and remind him of these things. I’ll hug him again extra tight and cry. Then his father and I will drive 750 miles away from him.
Like my grandfather and father with the outdoors, and my grandmother with teaching, I’ve followed my passions into teaching and being a mom. Now that my role has changed, I’m following my passions for nutrition, the outdoors, photography, and inspiring others to live well longer.
I know a lot of moms who are saying goodbye to their college bound children. I know they struggle between letting go and knowing their child is off to great things. If you are in this situation leave a comment below and let me know how it is going for you.