School meant they were away from me, and I didn't like it. I'd be the one saying to them "are you sure you don't have a fever?" in an attempt to get them to stay home and cuddle, our heads resting next to each other as we read.
On the weekends when our sons were little, they made our house friend central. We relished the chaos, a bunch of kids on our floors covered in quilts of various colors, snacks and legos and strewn throughout the house. It was joyous.
When you've experienced this kind of happiness, you don't want it to end, so my husband and I often talk about -- only half jokingly -- of moving somewhere where we can buy acres of land to build a family compound where one day our sons and future daughter-in-laws and, of course, myriad of grandchildren can run through sprinklers and skip school to be with us.
But this is our need, and we know that just like a fledgling bird must leave his nest, so too will our sons. Life, it turns out, is organically preparing us for this eventuality. It started with a natural emotional distancing during the pre-teen years. It continued with a healthy independence, where they didn't need our help with homework or to tuck them in at night. It, of course, has culminated with the college-application process when we realized that the closest school on our 12th-grader's list is 600-miles away.
Therefore, I have no choice but to steel myself emotionally to the reality that one day when I look into my sons' bedrooms, they won't be at their computer or reading a comic in their bed. I know that soon the arts-and-crafts boxes will need to be sealed and put away and the garden sprinklers will have to accept that their only job is to water the melancholy lawn.
I think about this as at 5:00 am this morning as I'm driving my son to his school. There, he will meet with some of his classmates to board a bus to the airport so that they can fly across country for a competition . As we quickly say goodbye in the car, I wave to him through the window, but he has already joined his friends, a shadow in the uncharted, charcoal sky.