When my kids were born, like most parents, we imagine them growing up and what it might be like.  We get glimpses of who they might be later on over the course of their childhood, but the day to day process of life overshadows these moments.  And then one day, you wake up and you realize you have a Senior in the house.

The process part of the growing up project are gradual, and distracting.  Yes, when they study for the SAT’s, and when you start visiting colleges, you know what’s coming. You know that in a short time, they will be out of the house and on their own.  Yet it all hits home at small moments.  When you get the cap and gown ordering form.  When you get the proofs of their senior portrait and see them in a cap and gown for the first time.  When they ask for a credit card to pay for their college application fees.  These moments are when I realize the day I dreamed about from time to time when he was a toddler is now a reality.

I’m incredibly proud of my son, and scared at the same time.  I have done everything I could to make sure he’s ready for this change?  What will life be like when he’s not here every day?  Will he manage on his own?  Will I manage without him?  Of course, the answers to all of these questions is yes.  Everything will be fine.  We’ve made decisions along the way, including summers where he’s already spent three weeks on his own at a college, and has done splendidly, so I know he’ll be perfectly ok.  I know I’ll be fine, too.

But somehow, much more so than that first day of kindergarten, or first day at summer camp, this has hit me like a ton of bricks.  A large part of my mom job, part of who I am, is changing.

My husband pointed out a recent study that shows that Moms carry the actual DNA of their children in their brains for the rest of their lives.  This means that I will carry bits of my boys with me every day for the rest of my life.  I guess that’s part of the explanation for a mom’s bond with their children- it’s physical as well as emotional.  But I’m not sure it’s going to make the launching of him onto the world any easier for me.  The worry will be there, even as I have complete confidence that he will do well.

I’m sure by May, my Mom/kid separation anxiety will be easier to deal with.  But right now, it hits me in waves of tearing up, both with extreme happiness, and with the realization that life is about to change – the day is coming, as sure as the day he was born- something set into motion long ago, coming to fruition.    It’s inevitable, and hopefully, by the time it gets here, I’ll be less of the weepy mess I feel like while I’m ordering senior portraits.  In the meantime, buying stock in Kimberly Clark, the maker of Kleenex, might be a good idea.