Relationships are Hard

But our humanity depends on them

We need each other.

I was out shopping with a friend and we were talking about my son starting college soon. This is a big deal in my family. I wish my mother was still alive to see her grandson begin the next phase of life. I expressed my concerns about my son’s growing independence. I felt that he would no longer need me.

My friend reminded me that my son will need me as he enters the adult world. My son is on the autistic spectrum. He was diagnosed when he was still a toddler. Throughout his young life, my son has received support in school to help him with social interactions and academic support. He is very intelligent but understands things on a concrete level. Abstract concepts are not his forte.

However, with support at home and at school, my son has found his calling in the arts. He’s going to a community college to begin his studies in art and graphic design. My son has also reconnected with some former classmates. His social calendar has become very active over the summer.

My relationship with my son has always been close. When he was born, I welcomed him into the world with a kiss on his tiny face. I remember his large eyes staring at me. He was probably wondering who I was and why I was mushing his face with my lips. My son scrunched up his face and blinked as he adjusted to the new sensation. It was love at first sight.

I’ve always had difficulty with relationships. Men have been a disaster. Women have been a mixed bag. As a teacher, it’s been a rollercoaster ride with students. But with my son, it’s always been a joy. My son loves being around me and partaking in whatever activities I have planned. He’ll make suggestions and we incorporate them into our day. I feel that the bond I have with my son is the one area I’ve gotten right in my life.

I don’t want to lose that bond. But as my son grows older, he’ll become more independent. I know he’ll need me, but not as much. Many will say it’s now time to focus on myself. I want to, but being a mom has been so fulfilling for me. It’s an area that I embraced the moment I became pregnant. Being a mon means that I created something and brought it forth into the world. I nurtured my child into manhood. I did that!

We need to have strong relationships with family and friends. We need people in our lives who understand us. Relationships have more ups and downs than the stock market. But unlike the stock market, we can communicate our needs and repair our conflicts. We give each other advice. We cry on each other’s shoulders. And we argue and fight sometimes growing apart. But as humans, we need those connections and find a way to come back together.

As I help my son navigate his first year of college, I know that he’ll need me to help him. He needs to get his finances in order. He’ll need to get identification. He’ll need to navigate public transportation. Next summer, he will work his first job. I’m afraid and excited about what lays ahead for my son. But I know he can do it. A friend reminded me that my son is more than capable. And that it’s ok to let go….even just a little.



Shirley is a poet and writer. Ms. Luke enjoys reading, fashion and travel. She is working on a manuscript of her poems and an essay collection.

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Shirley Jones Luke

Shirley is a poet and writer. Ms. Luke enjoys reading, fashion and travel. She is working on a manuscript of her poems and an essay collection.