Letting Go

My son is going to college, out-of-state and 12 hours away from home. This is a good thing and a bad thing. I realize I want him to go to college, I am proud of him and his high school accomplishments and I understand that keeping him locked up in the house with me is not the socially acceptable thing these days. I am just really going to miss him.

He is a really cool young man, easy going and funny, not to mention, very helpful around the house! As a mother I am very conflicted. I think he is ready I am just not sure if I am.

I think he’ll make good decisions out on his own, but I am terrified when I think back to my college days and all the crazy stuff I used to do. What if he does something stupid and gets himself hurt or arrested? How can I protect him when he is not under my watchful eyes 24/7?

My imagination goes wild whenever I start to think of all the dangers awaiting him out in the “real world” and it only gets worse as the days tick off on my calendar! Swine flu, car wrecks, drunk drivers, floods in Iowa, contaminated drinking water, meningitis, drugs, college parties, infected splinters, mean girls, broken hearts, dehydration-so many potential threats out there waiting for my unsuspecting teenage son. How can I sleep at night not knowing if he arrived home safe? These are just some of the irrational fears that run through my mind at night. What am I supposed to do?

After wrestling with this for weeks, no, really months, I finally came to the conclusion that I am just going to have to get over it and let him go the same way I let his big sister go only 3 short years before.

To console myself I decided that a midlife crisis might be distracting, so I cooked up all these nutty bucket list items and decide that if I had to let my kids go and live a dangerous life I might as well live dangerously too and have a little fun.

I boldly announce to my son that I am taking him sky diving on his last full day at home. He was a bit surprised I must admit. Having the “fun sucker” for a mom usually did not include skydiving but he knew enough not to question my sanity prior to something this exciting.

Friday morning dawned as a perfect Colorado day. Temperatures were mid 80’s, clear, baby blue skies and mountains so crisp you could feel it as you took in the mountain air.

Mile Hi Skydiving indulged my whim only after I signed my life away on their release form and watched as my son boldly signed his name without a glimmer of hesitation.

I decided to splurge and buy the video tape thinking I would only do something this stupid once in my life and I had better record it for all the nonbelievers out there who really know me!

My tandem jumping partner’s name was Eric and he resembled a mid-life rocker with his salt and pepper grey hair and his cool tattoos and live and let live attitude. So far so good.

After we put our jumpsuits on, and were properly harnessed up we loaded a flat bed truck for the short journey to the plane. Still doing well. The plane was much smaller than I expected, especially when I started adding up all of us that were boarding, 20 seemed like a lot.

Inside it looked like it did in the movies with all the jumpers geared up sitting on benches facing each other in the crowded cargo hold.  I kept waiting for the panic to envelope me. Surely if I were a good mom I’d be worried about Sam but instead I was getting caught up in the adrenaline mixed with testosterone filling the air.

Soon Eric announced to me that I needed to hold the helmet, turn around facing away from him and then sit on his lap. Well, I had not thought this through very well, because I definitely did not anticipate this development. Sitting on a strange tattooed, rocker man’s lap did not seem like the suburban motherly thing to do. In fact, it seemed outright scandalous, but after looking into his eyes I could see he was serious I decided to comply.

Next, Eric started to clip us together and then synced us together so tightly I could imagine all kinds of improper things. Well, I had not been this intimate with a man other than my husband for over 28 years and this was really strange. Trying not to over think my current situation I tried a few deep breaths.

The next words still gave me cause to wonder when Eric told me to “scooch down into his lap as much as I could” In what really felt like a little dirty dancing, grinding motion I tried to comply. This was starting to get very interesting when all of a sudden, the hatch door flew open and Eric started sliding down the bench toward the open door. Within a split second I was faced with a whole new problem, that being the fact that I was now cinched very tightly to a strange man and we were standing in the doorway of a plane flying at 18,000 feet above the ground.

“Dear God what was I thinking when I signed up for this?” I thought.

Before I had a chance to panic Eric made good on his word and threw us efficiently out of the plane, and I was falling 120 miles per hour toward the distant ground. My ears started ringing, my cheeks were flapping in the wind and it was really, really loud.

This delightful stage is called the free-fall and while it officially only lasts 45 to 60 seconds it feels like a lot longer when you are actually doing it. Amazed at my enthusiasm for this I just enjoyed the rush and gave into the feelings this evoked. This was really wild!

A strange thought occurred to me mid-free-fall. It dawned on me that this experience held a very symbolic meaning for me. If I could let go of my fears enough to jump out of a plane with a complete stranger responsible for my well being, than I had the courage in me to let go of my son. Let him go rang in my ears with the wind. Let him go. This is what life was all about, feeling it, enjoying it, testing it and living it. Let him go. Let him go.

Just as quickly as it all began it changed. It felt like a light switched flipped on me and suddenly the parachute opened and we were floating. Peace all around, peace within my heart. It was like floating on a cloud, calm, pleasant, beautiful. We drifted toward earth slowly taking in the view of the mountains, the ponds, farms and other skydivers floating in the air above us. It was like time stopped for 4 minutes and I got to feel like God looking over his creation. I think part of the peace came from the recognition that it was ok as the mom to let go and let your child experience life.

When we landed, nice and softly, I declared to Eric that this was undoubtedly the coolest thing I had ever done. Letting go was good; it was fun, exciting and more.

Nothing bad happened and I realized that nothing bad would happen if I had the courage to let go of my children. How could I deny my son this amazing of an experience all in the name of love? That would simply not be right. Let him go.

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list”.

Skydiving Soft Landing

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