I wasn’t prepared for this. All summer, I was driving down the road of life, expecting a smooth ride for the foreseeable future, focused on the future. Sure, my son was about to leave for college, but he hasn’t been around much this summer so I was sure I would take it in stride. Plus, I have my own life, for heaven’s sake, with a new business to run, an existing business to maintain and a return to school for myself this fall. I am a strong, professional woman!
I wasn’t prepared for this. I kept telling friends that my son was preparing us for moving out this fall by being rather confrontational this summer, staying out late at night, or staying overnight often with friends. He was absent a lot this summer. He even stayed at a friend’s home while the parents were out of town - something that I’d never let my kids do before. I was the mom who always called the friend’s parents before a party to make sure they were planning to chaperone the party properly. What can you do with a child who is now a man, I reasoned. Surely, my son leaving the house would be no big deal.
I just wasn’t prepared for this.
My husband and I brought our son to college for the first time this week, and left him there last night.
What I wasn’t prepared for was how sad I’m feeling, now that we’re back at home - in this big, empty home with just the three of us left in it. I wasn’t prepared for how bereft I’d feel and how the little things are making me cry. I tidied up my son’s room this morning and cried. I discovered all the perfectly good clothes he left behind and cried. When I went to the garage, I discovered my husband had folded up the ping pong table that he and my son used to play on every night before bedtime. I wept outright.
What’s making me so sad? I’m so happy for my son - he got into the college of his dreams, he is already best friends with his room mate and he has a wonderful freshman seminar professor, who we met. I am so proud of him, my baby who blossomed into a handsome, bright young man. He has the world at his feet. I feel the hand of the Divine - it can only be that - who brought us to this point. It was heaven’s influence that crafted my son’s acceptance at this very selective college, changed my mind about where he should go, and delivered us a scholarship that made it a slam-dunk financial decision. My heart is overflowing with gratitude, pride, relief and happiness.
Yet, I weep. My son and his spirit are missing here now. My son left a large footprint, both energetically and physically. Like most teenaged boys, he was a bit of a slob. He would blow through the house like a tornado, leaving debris behind him everywhere he went. I’ve threatened to open the windows of his room and bring in a fire hose to blast it clean. More than that, I realize now that his spirit filled our home - his expansive, generous, funny, eccentric, think-outside-the-box spirit is missing.
And, it’s the end of a chapter of our family’s life. We are no longer a foursome at home under one roof anymore. It’s the inevitable change that happens to all families - the kids grow up and move out. I understand intellectually that this is good, normal, to be expected. I just wasn’t prepared for my reaction to it.
It’s my first-born who just went to college! And I’m sad! I miss him!
It also means that I’m getting old. That’s a bummer.
I’m not sure what I’m going to do next fall when my daughter goes to college. Then I’ll have cause to weep. The nest will be truly empty then.
Got a box of kleenex for me?