How one mom is coping through the realization that her oldest of three teens will be on his own soon.

By Katie Bingham-Smith
Photo by Getty Images

My oldest child will be 16 this year. It wasn't that long ago when his uncle came over on his ninth birthday and let me know my time with him was already half over.

"In another nine years, he'll be gone and on his own!" He said it like it was cause for celebration but looking at my tiny nine-year-old as he was engrossed in a new puzzle, hands and cheeks still pudgy, his striped shirt a touch too short, the thought of only having nine years left with him left me feeling anxious.

And here we sit, over six years later and time hasn't gone by as fast as I thought it would. It's gone faster.

He now knows how to drive; he’s had a few girlfriends; he wears a size 12 shoe and stands over six feet tall. If I need help opening a jar or fixing something around the house, he is always up for the challenge.

What am I going to do without him?

In two years, he will be graduating from high school and going to college or moving out and working. However he decides to write the next chapter in his life, it will always be OK with me. Because right now as he sits on the sofa playing video games with his brother, my biggest concern is how I can savor these next two years without being in a constant state of wanting to keep him just as he is right now.

I hear those last two years fly by faster than them all.

The little boy who used to ask me to play Connect 4 with him will need to open up his own checking account.

The little boy who took so long to learn how to tie his shoes, leaving me thinking I’d be doing it for him for the rest of his life will be picking out clothes for a date, a speech, and one day, maybe even something to wear at his wedding.

The little boy who used to need to be tucked in every night by his mother and have his teddy bear snuggled next to him will be keeping up with a (probably pretty messy) dorm room or an apartment.

And the young man who has been helping me carry in the groceries, mow the lawn, and snow plow the driveway will be tending to term papers, running his own company, or heading to work every day to carve his own spot in this world.

On his own.

I hope during these next two years I am able to show him all the things I want to show him while letting go enough so that he can flourish and grow into himself organically. I can honestly say it's going to be a struggle. Especially on the nights he wants to head out with his friends and the weekends he is working and the days he wants to hide out in his room.

I know those are the times when I am going to want him to just stay home with me so I can savor a bit more of him.

But those are also going to be the times when he wants to be away from me and his family the most, and I have to honor that whether he has two years, two months, or two days left at home.

Because to him, I'm sure it feels like an eternity and he can't wait to get out there, be independent, and discover who he is going to be.

And while this is heart-wrenching for me, especially because I've never done it before, the only thing I can do is realize this is how it is all supposed to unfold.

So, for the next two years we will keep building on this foundation and the relationship that we have created as mother and son and hope with all my strength time will slow down, even if it's just a tiny bit.