Pulling Away

Pulling away. This letting go process wasn’t something my momma-heart was ready for. August 21, 2015 was the day my husband and I moved our youngest child into his freshman dorm at East Carolina University.

Throughout this long day, I’m intentional about watching my little boy’s face. I look for any signs of uncertainty he may be feeling. I watch Dylan’s face with the concentration of an eagle, knowing that this day, this is the very last day that I have the luxury of soaking in that beautiful face seven days a week, 365 days a year. My days with my little boy are pulling away from my white-knuckle grip on motherhood. Time is winning and mocking my ache to hold on to Dylan just a little bit longer. Soon, much sooner that I care to consider, my little boy will be pulling away from the security his father and I have built for him. In a matter of hours, Dylan will be pulling away from being a high school kid who lives at home and he will step boldly into life as a college student
on his own. {Oh no! I can’t cry….get busy, Windy!}

Boxes are unloaded and left in crumpled heaps in the dorm hallway. Clothes are neatly unpacked and placed on shelves. Computer cords, t.v. cables, and various chargers are all tucked neatly in place just next to an ECU Student ID card on a lanyard which hangs from the desk corner. On this ID card is a photo of a young man who stands 6’4″, with a strong jaw, a chiseled face, and a 5 o’clock shadow. Surely that’s not MY little boy, my little Dillie. My little boy is still so young and so small. He still needs me and….he does still need me, doesn’t he? {Shake it off, Windy…don’t you dare let him see you cry!}

I busy myself with cleaning to take my mind off the inevitable. Pine-Sol becomes my drug, as it distracts me and enables to avoid facing reality. I scrub and scrub while Dylan, his dad, and the others in the room discuss the upcoming football schedule with great enthusiasm. Football be damned, I think to myself. Who cares about a giant football stadium filled with cheering fans on a crisp Fall afternoon? Who cares that my little boy is about to begin some of the most amazing years of his life? Who cares that this momma’s heart is crumbling on the inside? Anyone?

My husband steps over, pulling me away from my cleaning, and looks down at me. It’s happening. It’s time.

It’s time to leave our little boy. I suddenly feel like a child, wanting to stomp my feet and throw a tantrum. WHY do I have to let him go? WHY do I have to walk away from this child who has my whole heart? The tears spill over my eyelashes and I feel my cheeks streaked warm and wet. Dylan hugs me and reminds me that he’s coming home in “only” three weeks. I cry even harder now and I don’t let go of him. My husband hugs us both then pulls me away. I know it’s time to go, it’s time to face reality.

It’s almost sunset as my husband and I walk in silence to our car. At 7:45 we pull away from Umstead dorm, pulling away from being needed for the past 18 years, pulling away from all of us living under the same roof. We drive three and a half hours home in silence. There are no words needed, no words that can comfort either of us. When we pull into our driveway, the empty spot where Dylan’s Jeep is usually parked brings more tears for both my husband and me. We sit in the car in more silence, denying until the very last minute the beginning of life without Dylan living at home.

Today is Thursday, July 28th, 2016. My Dylan is home for Summer break and  my heart is whole again. In 19 days we will head back to East Carolina, move him into his new apartment, and tell him goodbye all over again. And this year, as we are pulling away from Greenville and leaving my little 6’4″ boy behind, I will be sure to allow myself the freedom to let go, to pull away, a bit more than last year. But first…I will need some Pine-Sol!


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