The other day was Drew’s last soccer game. After cheering on my firstborn from the sidelines for about thirteen years, we’re finished with this child, with sports at least. We sat in our usual spot, no matter what field we’re at, somewhere between midfield and the goal line, but closer to the goal line. Drew usually plays left back defender. We get the best view of him here.
Like usual, I snapped a few pictures near the beginning of the game, not really checking to see how they turned out, too focused on the game to worry with picture quality.
As usual, Drew’s grandparents were there, watching intently, the same way they had their own sons, cheering every time he touched the ball. Grampa kept stats with his paper and pencil. Gramary remarked on how beautiful the fog was moving across the field—always seeing the beauty in the usual.
“Nice!” I yelled. Then “Go! Go! Go! Go!” Then “Yes, Drew!” or “Yes, Adam!” or “Nice, Carlos!” or “Run, Will, yes, Will, go!” or “It’s yours, Tristan, it’s yours! That’s the way!” or “Oh, what a beautiful ball! That’s the way it’s done, Taylor! Do it again, Bearcats!”
I watched Drew run down the field, his long legs under him, his face fixed and firm, his posture confident. He stopped, midfield, one foot in front, arms slightly back, chest out. He looked up, just barely. Then stretching his body up, he headed the ball, placing it on a path to a teammate with force and intention. Beautiful. Powerful.
Later, maybe that night, I looked at the pictures I had taken. All the ones that turned out okay featured Drew’s back. His numbers prominent, his red hair shining, his hands resting coolly on his hips. In some pictures he was running, but it was still his back I captured. Any picture that I got of his face was lost in the fog.
I had noticed the week before, when I was working on Drew’s senior night poster, that most of the pictures I had of him playing soccer over the years were the same exact pose—his back, hands on his hips, ready to defend, ready to run. His face away from me.
I love these pictures and this pose. I love the idea of watching my son running away from me. He knows I’m right behind him. He hears me cheering him on. When he gets far enough away on the field to where he can’t hear me and the fog swallows my view, he knows I am here, still cheering. I know he is there, still playing.
Drew leaves for college in a few months. I have yet to cry or even get sad, and I am an emotional person who cries a lot. Actually, when I think about Drew leaving for college, which is often, I get really excited. Maybe I’m not a normal mom. Maybe I’ll cry later, but for now all I feel is this overwhelming joy.
Sure, I will miss having Drew around next year. I love his company. I will miss hearing him play his harmonica in the afternoons after school. I will miss his sarcastic sense of humor. I will miss just having him around.
But as much as I will miss him, I am that much more thrilled that he gets to go to college, and that is happily crowding out every other emotion. I have dreamed about being able to send my boys to college since they were babies, probably since before they were born. It was my most important financial goal. I was the first in my family to go away to college, so it’s a big deal for me. It’s not that going to college is a dream come true, or that everyone must go to college to live out a dream. No, it’s that I was able to offer my son this opportunity, to give him the chance to go and do and live—as far and as much as his abilities and desires lead him.
So here we are. Our firstborn is picking out his college, filling out applications, deciding on majors. His future belongs to him. He is looking ahead. And I am so content to watch his back and cheer him on as he peers into his life ahead and gets ready to run.
We will be sitting in our usual spots, no matter the field. Watching our son.
My favorite quote from Drew’s favorite movie:
"When I watch you do some of the things you do, I feel like I'm watching someone paint or play music. When I go to the races, I go to watch you make art and it's beautiful and inspiring and everything that art should be, even though there are times when I have to close my eyes. But then there are other times, when you just take my breath away and it's at those moments, when I feel your father's chest swell and I know he's smiling, trying to pretend he doesn't have tears in his eyes, I just go to pieces…. Because I am so impossibly proud to be your mother."
-Mom Racer to Speed Racer
Welcome to my Blog! I am a wife, mother of three, high school English teacher, and a graduate of the Bluegrass Writers Studio at Eastern Kentucky University. Before anything else, I am a woman of faith.