This week I am thinking about Mountain Hawks and Yellow Jackets.
No, I’m not referring to the birds and the bees. (Technically, yellow jackets aren’t bees anyway.)
I’m referring to school mascots, those ubiquitous symbols of school spirit and alumni pride.
When our children were in high school I became very familiar with school colors and school mascots.
In our case it was a cougar. We had cougars on T-shirts, hoodies, travel mugs, water bottles, school directories, and of course, sports uniforms. By his senior year, son #2 had enough school-colored-and-mascot-emblazoned apparel to fill an entire wash load.
Then son #1 went off to college, 500 miles away in another state.
His school mascot became something seen only on those slick promotional mailings. The new mascot meant something to my son, but not to me, because I wasn’t on the sidelines cheering for the team or watching the antics of the mascot. In fact, I’ve never seen said mascot in person or attended a single sports event at the college. (I have attended two plays, we all have our priorities.)
When son #2 left for college, I felt much the same; distant and unconnected.
Some of you may be thinking: Hold on here! Doesn’t son #2 go to your alma mater? Surely that mascot brings back fond memories and the sight of those school colors touches some deep chord of passion or proud school allegiance.
Yes, but at the same time a huge, resounding no. You see, since I was a student they have changed the mascot (not that I blame them) and I never did like the school colors. (Brown and white? Blech! Who thought up those colors, an engineer or something?) Anyway…
My point is that this mascot identity crisis is one more step in the process of letting go.
Not only have my sons left the nest in the physical sense, but also in the more abstract sense that we no longer share life on an intimate basis. (Those of you with sons in college understand what I mean. Some weeks just verifying they are still alive is progress, forget hearing about what they are feeling or who they are spending time with, or whether they’ve even thought about washing their sheets yet.)
They have moved on to a new life and I need to be OK with that, even if I sometimes feel unconnected.
As a mother of college kids, I need to accept the fact that:
- I may never again stand on the sidelines and cheer for a team as I watch my sons compete.
- I may never again have my sons home for an entire summer.
- I do not know what my sons eat, when they go to bed, or how they spend their free time. I can only trust that they continue to make wise choices. (So far they have made us proud.)
- When my sons are sick, or hurt, or depressed I can’t be there to take care of them. They have to learn to take care of themselves.
- I do not know my sons’ roommates. I haven’t even met most of their friends. Or the professors who are currently influencing how they think. (Or any of the friends, co-workers, bosses, etc who will influence them in the future, for that matter.)
We aren’t given the privilege of raising children so we can keep them safely in our nest and under our wings forever. We have to release them.
So I do my best to enjoy this sometimes frustrating, sometimes scary but always worthwhile journey of letting go, stepping back, (and sometimes clamping my mouth shut) as I watch my little boys grow into the unique and independent men God intends them to become.
And in case you’re wondering, here are the mascots that now emblazon my sons’ wardrobes. What will it be next year when son #1 moves on to grad school? Who knows.