I had been waiting for this day for a very long time. When I received the invitation, I was so excited but the magnitude of the occasion and what it signified still didn’t hit me.
I visited so many boutiques at Zamzama in search of the ‘perfect’ outfit; took out my pearls and matching heels; made sure the camera was charged. But it STILL didn’t hit me, even on the day of the event itself, when I was getting dressed and putting on my makeup.
I sat in the car with my husband and we drove to my son’s college. We walked to the place where the ceremony was taking place and I listened to the dean’s speech, sitting on the edge of my seat. I heard names of students being called out; the air was ringing with applause and cheers. And suddenly I heard my son’s name being called out. He walked to the stage and I immediately stood up from my seat and rushed to a spot from where I could take a clear picture. As I opened the camera on my phone, my hands began to tremble. Tears of joy filled my eyes and I felt a wide smile spread across my face.
My baby, my firstborn, had completed his A-Levels and was graduating from college!
And then it hit me. The baby I brought into this world 18 years ago, the child I nurtured and protected all these years was no longer a baby. He was an adult who no longer needed me to take him around and show him how things were done. He was ready for the world – the same world I had spent the last 18 years protecting him from.
It seems just like yesterday that I conceived him. From conception to birth, EVERYTHING I experienced was my first time ever. That’s the thing with firstborns – every experience with them is the ‘first’.
Their first diaper change, first crawl, first step, first word.
Their first day of school, first school concert, first Sports Day medal, first report card…and the list goes on.
Parents have a sense of achievement every time their children cross a milestone in their life. There’s a sense of pride and possessiveness in the heart and while this feeling doesn’t dissipate with every child you have, it is more magnified because it is your first time experiencing it.
As parents, we want to protect our children from everything; especially, the ‘big, bad world’ out there. It is a natural parental instinct. But for how long can we do that?
Just like a child’s first day at school is significant, the day he/she graduates from college and is ready for university, is also an irrevocable step in life. As my son graduates from college and is all set to go off to university, I realised that soon all the choices he will make in his life will be HIS own and not mine. There is talk of choosing universities abroad and I feel bittersweet feelings seep into my heart. A sense of pride that I have done my job as a parent but some dread at the thought of my baby being in the world – ALONE.
I feel a great sense of achievement surrounded by a sense of hollowness which I can’t really explain. Life has come full circle, as it always does. Throughout this journey of parenting, we prepare our children for the future; we give them strength and determination for challenges so that when we are not there to hold their hand, they will be able to take on the world confidently. With hope and lots of prayers in our hearts, we slowly let go…
This transition from childhood to adulthood comes with its own challenges. Our children will now choose and make decisions themselves. From the degree program they want to enroll in to the job they want to do to the life partner they want to spend their life with (although the Paki mom in me hopes he will leave THIS decision to me ). Nevertheless, it is important to set our emotions aside and help our children transition from the protective circle that family and parents provide to the uncertainties and (sometimes harsh) realities of the world.
It is our job as parents not to show our vulnerability to our children at these times.
It is our job to accept and let go – with a big smile on our faces and an even bigger heart.