He was ready; I was not.
As it turned out, that passport turned out to be a very good thing because my son needed to have one for his job (a requirement for employment). Then, last summer he needed that passport for a trip to the Netherlands, and just this morning he used that passport at the Atlanta airport for a flight to Japan where he and a few friends will spend two weeks exploring Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Yokohama.
I have always said that I wanted to give our sons the world, and these past few months when my son called to share his travel itinerary or ask me questions about money exchange or the efficiency of pocket WiFi, I've realized that THIS is what I've always wanted ... for our sons to be independent, adventurous, and curious about the Big World out there.
With one son ready to fly halfway around the world, our second son will be leaving soon for a 9-week internship at an accounting firm in mid-town Atlanta. Yesterday he told us that he didn't need any help moving in to his temporary dorm/suite on the Georgia Tech campus. My husband and I were a little surprised since we had already planned to help him move in, map his commute to and from work, and then take him out to lunch. But Jonathan said moving in wouldn't be a big deal and that when we came for a visit he would then show us around.
Once upon a time I would have been offended and maybe even a little sad, but this time I was proud at this young man willing to start something brand new on his own terms.
In my book, An Ocean, an Airplane, and Two Countries Full of Kisses, I write of the time our youngest son and I were invited into the cockpit of an Air France jet as it flew over the Atlantic. It was almost midnight, and as we huddled in that small place with the pilot and his crew, no one said a word while we gazed at a full moon that looked close enough to touch. It was a magical moment, and I remember thinking how I wanted my sons to always see the moon with the knowledge it shines on other lands, cultures, and peoples; that the moon reminds us of our place in the world, but also calls us to distant shores.
I've come a long way from that day in the Post Office when the reality of a passport reminded me our sons were growing up and that the very same passport promising hello, buon giorno, and konnichiwa also brings with it goodbye, arrivederci, and itte kimasu.
Of course, this is not to say that letting go is easy; on the contrary, it's hard and teary and gut wrenching.
But I've also realized that in wanting our sons to spread their wings, I also need to be ready to let them fly.
"...to stand under a moon when across a vast ocean someone else stands under
the very same moon--that the moonlight shining down on me is also shining
down on other people in different countries who are sleeping in huts, or homes,
or in tents, or who, like me, are simply marveling at the moon. I imagine them
eating or sleeping or fighting or loving, and I want to go there."
~An Ocean, an Airplane, and Two Countries Full of Kisses (Ch. 11)