There is a stack of boxes and totes in the corner of my living room. An old chrome toaster is wrapped up in its chord. A coffee pot too. Bundles of bedding and towels are lined up in their see-through bags.

That moment you never think is going to actually arrive has now actually arrived. My son is heading off to college.

I know what you’re thinking: Kelly is going to be a hot mess. She is a sensitive soul. Okay, fair assessment. Sensitivity is my super power. Yet,  I will not be a hot mess; more like a luke-warm sniffler.

Sure, I’ll cry when the car pulls out of the driveway. I’m a mother. It’s a rite of passage. No apologies. I’ve earned the right to feel all the emotions of change, just as I’ve earned the right to celebrate them. I plan to do both.

While I’ll miss the everyday interactions with the little boy who grew up to be a bigger version of his sweet self, I’m not losing anything here.

We’re both gaining big things; his future following his passion for photography, and me finding the dishes and cutlery I’ve not seen in months. Gross.

Truth is, I’m excited for my son. I’m even a bit envious. I miss school. I miss learning, studying and hanging out with people who cared about the same things I did. Taking courses that inspired you to learn more.

I miss the idealism of youth. Everything matters so much. I miss sleeping half a day and staying awake all night, dancing into the wee hours. I miss life before mortgages.

I know my son is ready to move on. He knows it, too. The pandemic held him back just long enough to propel him forward. The walls of small-town life were starting to close in. That’s a good thing. There is a big world out there to roam but you have to be eager to explore it.

The only way to appreciate diversity is to immerse yourself in it. I had that opportunity and I want it for him too. I cannot wait to see the world through the lens of his photographs.

Born and raised in the safety net of our small town, my son’s childhood memories are firmly rooted here. Whether it was lacing up his skates for local league hockey or taking the field with the Highland Rugby Club, or shooting hoops in Bissell Park, he’s grown up with a posse of friends that are like brothers. They’ve endured tragedies and triumphs that will bond them forever. It’s one thing to fit-in, but it’s another to belong.

Home is where the heart is. He’ll appreciate that when he gets real-world perspective. Wherever the journey takes him, our door will always be open.

I must thank him here, too. I’m sure it’s not been easy to have a mother who writes about his life so publicly, yet my son has endured it with grace. I hope he knows that motherhood gave me a voice, but my children gave me everything else. What an honour to record our journey together. Still, I bet he cannot wait to be anonymous.

Mothers and sons. Sacred territory. Heart on sleeve. Without question, one of the best friendships of my life. If this relationship has taught me anything though, it’s that the best way to hold on is to let go.

I will forever do both.

WriteOut of Her Mind