As I write this, Husband is up on the North Shore of Boston helping Girl pack up her dorm room and tomorrow he’ll bring her HOME for the summer. Earlier this afternoon, she took her last final exam and officially finished her freshman year of college?! She told me on the phone the other night that she’s both happy and sad that the year is over, and I understand those feelings completely. She’s very ready for a break from all of the hard work and to be home with family and friends and her beloved car, but she’ll also miss the new friends and professors and wonderful school she’s come to love so much. Good thing she gets to go back and I’m sure by August she will be READY. She’s had an amazing year, a year of great accomplishment, big fun and huge personal growth. Beyond anything she could have imagined, I bet.
What follows is something I wrote last August and I never published it because I didn’t start blogging until a month later. Its been sitting in a file on my lapotop and I figured today would be a good day to share it.
We’re back home after taking Girl up to Boston and we’ve refocused, kind of, in an otherworldly sort of way. We caught up with Boy following his weekend with my parents and we’re all set for his first day at his new school tomorrow. He’s understandably both excited and nervous. Me too. I hope we did the right thing by leaving him here this weekend, I still don’t know. He doesn’t want to talk about Girl at all right now which is unlike him, but that’s ok. He will when he’s ready, probably at bed time. His best buddies are hanging out with him at our house this afternoon, they’re squeezing out the very last drops of their summer vacation together, so on first glance, things seem the same as always because his friends are here so frequently and Girl was hardly ever here this summer. And yet, things feel suddenly and stunningly different. Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t be happier or more excited for Girl. She has so much to look forward to. She chose thoughtfully and we’re confident that this is a really great fit school for her – even though the President of her college is revealing himself to be a bit of a politician, or in other words, untrustworthy – and she’s well equipped to have a successful first year even with the potential bumps in the road that many freshmen encounter. Her move-in and associated tasks went smoothly, she’s enjoying orientation which continues through Tuesday, and she seems to be comfortably settling into her dorm. She’s looking forward to the Wednesday start of her classes, hopeful that my promises of what higher education will add to her life are true.
All great stuff for a kid who was giving me a coronary a year ago this time by telling me she didn’t think she wanted to go to college anymore.
We got through that, thankfully, and we moved into full-on college prep mode. But as much as I worked to get all 4 of us ready for her departure in lots of different ways, NOTHING prepared ME for leaving my kid on that college campus. The one in Massachusetts, 8 hours away. She handled the long weekend with quiet strength and happy anticipation, even while she was obviously a bit anxious. She briefly cried a couple of times but kept on going, taking it all in stride, wisely trusting that it was all part of the process. She was almost serene at times, which truthfully surprised me a little, and she was so appropriately funny too. As the family portion of the weekend came to a close and the traditional signing ceremony concluded in the chapel, it was time for students and parents to have an opportunity to wrap things up together, and for parents to leave campus. As in LEAVE Massachusetts. Without our kid. Girl made it clear that she didn’t want a sobbing scene in her dorm, she didn’t want a lot of words, she simply wanted to walk the quad with us for a few more minutes, so that’s what we did. We walked together peacefully.
And then suddenly she stopped walking. She looked at us in a way that clearly communicated, “Ok folks, it’s time for you to go now”, sweetly smiling, tears brimming her beautiful, sweet eyes. We high-fived and hugged her, told her that she’s totally got this and that we love and adore her. We said “see ya later” – not goodbye – and then she turned and walked away from us, never looking back. I will never forget it.
She’s ready. She did it. Her way. A sign of things to come, I’d say. Husband and I walked to the parking lot, stood outside our car and held each other while we cried and said all of the stuff Girl didn’t want to hear us say, because it’s all tucked away in layers in her heart already.
We drove half of the way home and stayed the night in a hotel in Connecticut, right outside of NYC. It was a very modern place and we continued to talk and cry our surreal tears through dinner, and up until it was time for us to call it a night. As always, Husband passed out in 3 seconds and I most certainly did not. I alternated between thinking HELLYES the kid did it and playing with the remote control for the toilet and wondering if the people at her college will love her and inspire her and challenge her and care for her and believe in her like we do. And I wondered what I’ll do with the part of me that took care of her. I told myself that I’m going to have my hands full with Boy and his new GT/LD status. I told myself that just as she’s making her way, growing and sharing her gifts, I’m going to work on growing and sharing mine. I told myself that I’m going to finally start that blog, because I promised her. I began to tell myself that maybe I’ll start looking for a very part-time job but then I smacked the shit out of that crazy talk and tried to get some rest.
It’s been 24 hrs since we got home and we miss her A LOT, in a way we haven’t missed her before. Our hearts are heavy even though we are so incredibly happy for her. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt this way before. Sincerely happy and hopeful AND sad. Not grief like a permanent loss, just sadness because it’s time to start a new chapter of a story I love, and in some ways I don’t want to, even though I know the story isn’t ending. It’s beginning. Again. I don’t know. But anyway, she’s exactly where she should be right now, doing exactly what she should be doing. I can’t wait to see what the year has in store for her and what she’ll do with all of the opportunities before her. As the cover of the journal she gave me for Mother’s Day says, “I do believe it’s time for another adventure.” Just as she’s doing, we’re embracing this change, we’re allowing ourselves to feel it and we’re going to move forward through it as we experience our own new adventures. And of course we’re here cheering her on, and we have her back, always, and I hope she never forgets that.
Tonight, as I left Boy’s room after tucking him in and I walked down the hall towards our room, I had to stop myself from going into Girl’s room for a catch up chat and to say goodnight, my routine with her for years. She’s not here. She’s away at school.
God be with you as you sleep, Girlie.