If there's one thing that they don't prep us mamás for, is the inevitable separations from our kids that we have to go through at different points in our lives. It's something that I've been thinking about a lot now that Alec, who's with me in the photo here, is starting college.

Seeing him so happy, just a step away from his brilliant future makes this mother feel proud beyond words. What I want most is to know that he's happy and to see him succeed. It's not much different from his first day of Kindergarten when he was so happy when I left him at his new school.

So why does my heart feel so heavy? How do I deal with this new separation? The following lessons I learned thanks to him, after I brought him to his Kindergarten class 13 years ago. I hope they help me (and that they help you too!) to face this new challenge.


  1. We have to let them grow up. I remember Alec hugging my legs that first day of school when he was a little boy, but even then he used to feel like a "big boy." In his new backpack he carried his empty notebooks, all of them waiting for the lessons he would soon begin to learn. Today, he's all grown up, un hombre hecho y derecho, and his suitcases are full of life experiences which will be joined by so many new ones in the coming years. It's good for me to remember that the natural progression of things has to be respected, and be happy for him as he continues to grow.
  2. Don't miss an opportunity to still teach him. Starting at a new school, and for Alec entry into his college world, is a symbol of independence. I have taken advantage to share some advice (how to manage his money, what his priorities should be, how to do his own laundry!) and give him some tools with which to forge his own way. It's a good way to let him know I'm here and that my advice is something that he'll be able to count on forever.
  3. Stop being an over-protecting mami! He sees opportunity, newness, everything that's yet to be discovered. I see all that too, but my overprotective mom side also sees a possible fall, the hurt, and the tears that I won't be there to dry. The reality is that this separation is surely more painful for me than it is for him, so it's better for me to let him know I'm here, even from far away, to be his support and his comfort whenever he needs it.
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Even though this is a new phase full of challenges and adjustments for the entire family, it's also a reason to be thankful and celebrate. My son may not belong to me, but my heart will always belong to him.

Note to my son: You're an amazing young man—sensitive, generous, able, and smart—with a brilliant future ahead of you. Beyond your achievements and successes, you've been able to keep your feet firmly planted on the ground and stay humble, giving more of yourself to others than you expect others to give to you. Thank you for the many more lessons that you've taught me than I have taught you. I'm going to miss you more than you can even imagine. Call me once in a while. I love you unconditionally. 

Image via Johanna Torres

Add Comment What feelings have you had to deal with now that your son or daughter is starting a new phase in his or her academic trajectory?
About the author

Johanna, our EIC, has enjoyed a twenty something year-old career that has taken her from TV, to print, to digital, and has loved every minute of it all (that's a lot of minutes!).  She's crazy about beauty products and loves shoes.

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Add Comment What feelings have you had to deal with now that your son or daughter is starting a new phase in his or her academic trajectory?

ML Maria

I just read the piece about saying goodbye to your baby.  The note to your son brought a tear to my eye.  So beautiful and so bittersweet.  Thank you so much for sharing it.

I can tell you’ve done a great job of raising your son to be a wonderful young man.  I’m sure he has much success ahead of him.  Congrats to you both.

Poodles

I homeschooled my kids, but my 18 year old will be leaving home in the Fall.  I am excited now, but I'm sure as we near the time of her going away, I'm gonna break down. 

Amiga...

oh gosh I don't even want to think about it when the time comes, the separation part  is tough. I also remember my son like if it was the first day today, when I was telling him that he had to start kinder, he told me in his little voice, "Mom I don't want to go to school" and started tearing, it touches me now that he is out of high school and going to start college pretty soon all those memories just makes me sensitive..

sophi...

**Sniff, sniff...  Wonderful article.  My daughter is entering the 1st grade and I feel like my baby is gone.  The changes are bittersweet , but I embrace them and enjoy every moment.

angie007

they are stil small :)

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