The sun wasn't up, but we were. 4:30am for me. 5am for Darling Man. 5:30 for The Boy. Showers all around, lunch-making and bag-packing. Lots of last minute "did you remember"s and "do you have"s before grabbing the stuff and putting it into the car.
A two minute car ride brought us to our destination, still in the dark but the sun was just starting to brighten the sky. There were only two other cars there. In the dark, The Boy jumped out of the car and excitedly grabbed his backpack while Darling Man hauled the bigger bag out and put it into one of the other cars. I grabbed my Boy and hugged him fiercely. Darling Man joined us in a three-way hug and then... it was time to let go.
He climbed eagerly into the other car along with another boy and the driver and they backed out and drove away, leaving me, Darling Man and the other boy's father standing together looking rather forlornly at the leaving tail lights.
I took Darling Man home to get his car and then headed to work myself, thinking about my Boy and how big he's getting and how independent he's becoming. This morning was a far cry from the last time we were apart for any time and any distance a couple of years ago when we dropped him off at Camp where he was desperately homesick and feeling out of his element. I doubt that he even looked back this morning.
He called me from the bus in Jacksonville and mid-conversation forgot I was on the phone as he started talking and laughing with someone else. I believe this may be the beginning of many such happenings.
My boy is growing up - and growing away from us. I know it's time. Past time, really. And I'm glad for him. He will be old enough to be on his own and going wherever he wants whenever he wants in a little over 4 years. He needs the practice now - how to be on his own away from us.
It's good to start this way. This is a safe adventure with other kids from churches around the diocese together on buses going to West Virginia to learn how to ski and have a great time together. I wish I could have done something like this at his age (though they weren't doing this when I was his age). I am so excited for him - and a little sad.
My baby not my baby anymore. He's a young man with a mind of his own. His feet are nearly as big as his father's feet. He started out the summer a couple of inches shorter than me and today I have to tilt my head to look up at him - a fact he is supremely proud of. When his voice changes, all traces of my little boy will be gone. Even the freckles are fading away.
This is all bittersweet for me. I realize that the actual GOAL of parenting is to raise children who are strong enough and smart enough to leave the nest and be contributing members of society. We're doing that... and (I think) succeeding.
But I'm sure going to miss him when he boards the bus for good.