Youngest son leaves for Sequoia National Park with his Boy Scout troop tomorrow morning. A swell of mixed emotions rises. And I contend with the push-pull: freedom from hands-on parenting 24/7 for a while and aching for the loss of his orbiting in my orbit.

And inside echoes of sadness swell – feelings arise from when I had to do this on a weekly basis with my first two children. Their dad and I separated when they were 6 and 4 and began a joint custody arrangement when they were 8 and 6. Up until then, except for the first two separated years of 3 out of 4 weekends spent with their dad, we were in each other’s realms fulltime.

They are both well grown – 32 and 30 (almost) – so looking back is a luxury. But the vestiges of those feelings are palpable in this moment. I don’t think I’ve honored the being in me that absolutely loves witnessing the growth in children – loves being there for their victories and hardships – as witness and, hopefully at least, as a somewhat helpful and effective guide.

Perhaps that part of me I haven’t responsibly honored – because it’s the ‘stay at home Mom’ part – society’s copping out part. Of course there’s lots of ways to be there for our children, but that’s the way that, on one level, felt and feels most akin to me. Though I’m quite grateful for my work as well.

Writing this has been an interesting journey. And that’s what our son is about to head off on. To Sequoia National Park. And I’m equal parts sad and glad –  sad that he’ll be gone, or I won’t be there to see – and glad for the respite and his independence.

I guess that’s just the way it was, is and will be with mother ties.