I have written previously about my son’s impending Aliya. Since then plans changed many times, and at one point we weren’t even sure it was going to happen.

There have been many good lessons learned along the way – by both of us, and going through this process together has brought us so much closer.

Yesterday my son had his appointment with the shaliach aliya in New York City. I didn’t begin to presume that I should go with him. After all, he’s starting his new independent grown-up life 5000 miles away – it’s time to cut the apron strings.

He texted me to let me know the date and time of the appointment, and I answered him with a smiley face. That smiley face actually meant “I am so thrilled. Can I please go with you and make sure the shaliach aliya understands what a gem you are, and will tell the whole of Israel that they are getting the best of the best when you land there?”

In a conversation with him later he asked me if I was coming. I told him that I hadn’t realized he wanted me to. “Ima, please, I need you with me”. Music to my ears.

It was so easy, this interview. I have had harrowing experiences with US Immigration and I was expecting this to be just as hard. Aryeh had all of his documents in order, in an accordion file. Everything in duplicate or triplicate and photocopied. (I wonder where on earth he gets his organizational skills from?)

The shaliach asked him the questions, he gave the right answers, they signed papers, I signed papers, we shook hands. The End. It took longer to go through security that it did to apply to live in Israel.

Today the shaliach called Aryeh and let him know that his Aliya has been approved, and his passport is heading to the Israeli Embassy for his Visa to be attached. Once he receives his visa, he can be in touch with Nefesh b’Nefesh and book his flight out.

My son is flying high right now. He is so happy and thrilled and excited, and dying to get there already.

Mama – not so much. I am so proud. I raised my children with a love of Israel, with the idea that Israel is where we all belong. I instilled it in them from birth. This is one thing that they actually heard and took to heart. But he’s my oldest. The first to fly the nest – and he’s flying so far! No one warned me how hard, how emotional this was going to be.

I cried a little driving to the city – but maybe that was allergies. My son is a man now. He knows what he wants, and he is following his dream. I helped him get there, and I taught him everything I could.

It’s time for me to let go. It’s time for me to watch him soar as I know he can. This is when I get to reap the rewards of the time and patience and effort that I have put in to raising him.

He’ll be doing ulpan, followed by army, and I want to be there when he gets sworn in to defend his country. I want to watch as he takes the oath that so many of his Israeli brothers and sisters have taken, and will take. I didn’t get the chance to serve, but my sons will. There is not a prouder mother alive.

I will be repeating this with sons #2 and #3 – and other parents tell me it does not get any easier, no matter how many times you do it. My youngest isn’t ready to commit to aliya and army – nor should he be at eleven. But I just know that it’s only a matter of time until I wave #4 off to do the same.

Aryeh is being our trailblazer – and his younger brothers are watching all he does with keen eyes. Me, I want to focus on making his last couple of months here in the diaspora as fun as possible, without too many tears. The tears can come once he’s gone.

The day after he leaves, we open a tik aliya for #2….