The moment I’ve been dreading for the last several months is finally here. Our boys are going back to school. And I’m a hot mess.

Sure, this year is different than most for the obvious reasons. It’s not enough that  we survived a pandemic and over a year of virtual learning, but now variants loom over us, offering more uncertainty.

But that’s not my main challenge. Nope, I’ve got a bigger problem: our boys are growing up. And it’s HARD!

My older son is entering his Senior year of high school and I’m keenly aware that the countdown has begun. Soon (with any luck!) he will be on his way to college. My younger son returns to in person learning after being home schooled for five years. He’s excited. They’re both excited. I’m sad.

I think back to bringing our boys home from the hospital and my husband’s realization that you don’t ‘have’ a baby, you ‘keep’ a baby. We worked so hard to have/ keep those babies. They didn’t come easily. I made the hard (privileged) choice to stay home and be a career mom. Such a gift.

But as we move into this school year, it occurs to me, we actually don’t get to ‘keep’ our babies after all.

They were merely rentals. And while I chose to co-create this family unit (and on a Higher level, I understand they chose us as parents) I’m also aware that their experience, what they need to fulfill their spiritual curriculum, will change the form of our family unit. They have to move on. Do you hear that sound? It’s my heart strings tugging.

Yes, I’m aware that this is all healthy. They’re spreading their wings, branching out, becoming independent and more confident. Blah, blah, blah. It hurts! I want them to do ALL of those things, but my gosh, I just wasn’t prepared for this transition.

But wait…I kinda was. Several months ago when I learned that my younger son wanted to return to school, I sensed an opening. And while I had a good (couple/ several/ many) days of tears, I also took some wonderful action steps. I signed up for a course in Consciousness, Radiant Health and Healing. I’ve already reaped some benefits of this course by exploring the way I showed up for my son as a gymnastics mom, my breast cancer experience, and how I can better serve my parents as they deal with the challenges of aging. Way to go, Sarah! Way to take care of yourself.

I also spent a good bit of time exploring and examining the limitations I’d been placing on myself while being a career mom and, just as importantly, the opportunities this new chapter affords me. Return to work? Explore a new career? Or (dare I contemplate) taking a little time for myself to rest, recover, and rejuvenate?

So while I acknowledge my heart pains, I also recognize the gifts that await me. Perhaps they’re better than anything I’ve imagined for myself?

The in between times have always been tricky for me. I picture myself in the middle of the ocean, in between two islands. The one behind me represents what I know: the safety of having my boys close by; old patterning and behaviors that no longer serve me. The one in front of me is barely discernable in the distance, but I have a sense that what awaits me is lush, healthy, abundant, freeing and fulfilling.

But the tide is strong and keeps tugging me back to the old island. I keep paddling, fighting the current, but it’s hard. I’m tired. And although my sense of what lies ahead is positive, there’s so much uncertainty. That dang uncertainty.

And then a thought flows through me like a gentle whisper. What if I just decide to let myself float? Sure, the tide may carry me back, but it could also carry me forward. I can surrender to the unknown, to that uncertainty, and trust that I will be carried. And wherever I end up will be absolutely perfect.

So as I look ahead to that first day of school, I’ll plan on giving our boys a big hug and kiss goodbye, pack their lunches (complete with a note from Mom), and send them on their way. Then I’ll take a deep breath, probably shed a tear (or five…hundred) and picture myself floating. And let’s just see where I end up.

In loving,


Sarah Altman worked in the entertainment industry before becoming a career mom. With a curiosity in the human inner experience, Sarah earned a Master’s Degree in Spiritual Psychology and her writing has evolved as a way to share her learnings. When she’s not busy with her mom duties, you can find Sarah nestled up, writing on her computer or indulging in a British period piece on television. Sarah lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two boys, who bring her love, joy and laughter every day. Her book, My Breast Life, One Woman’s Journey Through Cancer Blog by Blog, is available on Amazon.



Image courtesy of Zac Trieu.