As I sit on the NJ Transit train feeling the light bumping and swaying underneath me and an empty seat beside me, I bid farewell to the fast paced dirty streets of NYC…but I am not really alone. In fact, as I board my noon train heading to NJ, my youngest son boards a noon train too. A different noon train. I am simply heading home from a day in the city; he is heading back to his new home in Florida as he finishes his 2nd semester in College.
The bumping of the tracks feel like a continuation of the bumps we’ve experienced as he transforms from my baby to an emerging adult. Both of us struggling with hanging on, and letting go.
My text: I’m on.
His text: Me too.
I find comfort in the fact that we are both traveling by train at the exact moment even though we are not together. Even though I know that we will not be landing in the same spot. I let go of the concept that we won’t see each other on the other side and instead focus on the ride and the fact that even though we aren’t together, we are both on this ‘ride’. I don’t know why that causes me comfort, but oddly it does.
It is only then that I see the parallels of my 18 year-olds life and mine. I see that we are experiencing a new path in our lives filled with twists and turns, doing our best to understand where we fit in, what our boundaries are and just how independent we really are. At times I barely feel equipped to be so separate from him, not knowing how to help him while he keeps me at bay, while other times I pray he will simply call and beg for my help to give my life the purpose I am used to. I find myself frustrated with him, angry for not needing me, furious that it feels like I am locked out of my own house and sad…that he won’t let me just be his mamma.
Yet sitting on the train, envisioning his train racing beside mine at a speed that I don’t care to think about, I am reminded of the way he used to play as a kid. How often he would play with his friends in a similar parallel world. The day would be about his ball, his friends ball and the net. It wasn’t a game that needed conversation, interaction or mental support…it was just a way to play. With his friend right beside him. I can remember their little faces as they cheered at their own talent, shooting and dribbling endlessly with such joy. But I can even recall the way they would say goodbye; one arm tightly hugging the ball with a glance and a simple ‘see ya tomorrow.’ At the time I wondered if they cared more about their ball than each other.
Clearly I am a classic over-thinker.
No one would leave upset. No one felt disappointed or left out. They had had their play date where each of them would ‘play’ and that was that. In retrospect, their ability to play with little or no expectation was perfect. They seemed to have no plans on just how the whole thing would go, and so however it went…was perfect.
I wondered now if that lack of expectation was just what my life needed.
I then realized, after my 8th text in 20 minutes to my boy on the train…that perhaps I had a bit to learn; about letting go, trusting in the path ahead to guide us, and allowing both of us the freedom we needed so that we may grow into the next whoever we are supposed to be. Because if this life is simply about enjoying the ride to nowhere in particular, then we can truly enjoy the freedom of this moment as it is right now. No matter how fast we seem to be traveling.