Editor's note: Jill Adams is a professional writer based in Fort Wayne.
When I brought my first-born home from the hospital, I was admittedly a little bit terrified. I had virtually no experience with kids, and being responsible for this delicate baby instantly transformed me into a perpetually nervous mommy.
One afternoon, an older friend came by to see our new addition. She took one look at me and laughed out loud.
“Don't be so skittish!,” she exclaimed. “You're doing great. Just enjoy these days, because they will be over in the blink of an eye. Before you know it, he'll be heading off to school.”
I looked down at my tiny boy, sleeping peacefully in his bassinet. I couldn't imagine him being big enough — or independent enough — to spend his days somewhere without me.
And then, just as my friend had predicted, the years had somehow flown by. I suddenly found myself signing my son up for school and fighting an unexpected lump in my throat throughout the entire process.
As I filled out form after form, I couldn't help but think to myself, where did the time go?
So, like any modern mom, I posed my doleful question to my friends via a barrage of text messages and Facebook posts.
“It does fly by,” one friend agreed.
“I am going to miss that kid terribly,” I replied.
“Is he going to boarding school?” she asked wryly.
“Of course not!” I responded.
“Then you will still see him every day, and the time you have with him will be even more meaningful!”
I frowned. I was not consoled. I had spent every day with this child for years. Watching him grow and discover new things on a daily basis had been a huge part of my life. Now he would be doing most of that somewhere else, somewhere I wouldn't be. The thought was staggering.
As I pondered this concept, my phone rang.
“I know you're struggling with this,” one of my best friends said on the other line. “I've been there, and I want to tell you something. This might sound hokey, but it's true: Your job as a mom is to love your child, and give him wings to fly. He's excited, and you have to be excited with him!”
I exhaled deeply. I had never let my son see me shed a single tear over his impending school days, but wondered if he had been able to pick up on my feelings anyway. I decided to push my own emotions aside and share his anticipation for this new stage in his life.
The next night, I gathered my son and all of his school supplies for registration. He enthusiastically ran to his classroom and meticulously arranged all of his pencils, crayons and glue sticks in his new desk.
He opened his locker for the first time and beamed at me as he hung up his new superhero backpack. As I watched him, it became abundantly clear that, whether I was ready for this or not, he certainly was.
When we arrived home, the sun began to set. There was just enough light to indulge in a late-evening bike ride with my son. As we soared down the sidewalk side-by-side, I felt the slight chill of early autumn weather.
In just a few days, he would be off to school, and a new chapter would begin. I looked over at him and saw what an amazing young man he had become. And he was ready to spread his wings.