And he’s off!
It has been a week of saying goodbye… and hello.
Tears and smiles, hugs…and packing.
The ground has been unsteady all summer, but it’s finally firming up again.
And it feels GOOD.
Every time a child heads out into the great blue yonder, a piece of a mom’s heart gets torn off and goes with her child.
All summer, this piece of my heart has been pulling away. It has felt very uncomfortable, a bit unnatural, and I have felt uneasy, to say the least. I remember going through it with Tyler, and I am sure I will recognize it again in 4 years with Sam. But this summer, it has been about Jacob.
I left a piece of my heart in Michigan on Wednesday night.
It hurt. But it was in a good way. And it was time.
I barely made the plane, and I sobbed, feeling completely out of sorts, trying to check in through security.
As the tears streamed down my face, trying to find composure, I said to the nice lady at security, who obviously saw how upset I was, “It’s okay, really. I just said goodbye to my son for college—(sob sob). This is a good thing, really.”
She looked at me, scurrying to remove my shoes, concerned that the plane was already boarding, and said to me, “I will only need your license. So you give me that, and I will give you this–a box of Kleenex.” (Thank you, sniffle, sniffle.)
Something tells me I was not the first parent to show up that day with tears in their eyes.
From DC to Albany, I sat next to an 80-year-old man who was returning from dropping his very last child to college in Florida.
He, too, was feeling melancholy, and we shared a moment. We agreed that the week had been extremely emotional, and we were drained as we sat there on the late-night flight.
He said to me, “You know, this one was special. All of my children are special, but this one was different because I was so old when we had her. I got to raise her every day in a different way than the other kids. I was present because I wasn’t worried about supporting a family and being a younger man. I don’t know what I am going to do without her.”
And as I said to one of my friends earlier in the week, who had dropped her last child off to school and was coming home to an empty house with no husband or pets, “It’s going to be okay. We raise our children to do just this: leave us. Tomorrow, you will wake up and put one foot in front of the other and celebrate how good you did, raising a good human being who is going out in the world to put their mark on it.”
Every day gets easier and a little less empty as all of us parents of freshman college students find a new normal and a new role. Some of us will struggle a little more than others. Maybe it’s because we feel deeper, we are a little more sensitive to change, or for a multitude of many other reasons. I can’t even begin to list all of them.
But I am here to say we did it! The rest is up to them.
Today, I have a piece of my heart with Tyler at Purdue and Jacob at Michigan State, and my whole heart is still here with Sam, at least for four more years.
For all of you out there who are going through it right now, with me, it’s tough, and I feel it too.
As I clean up from a week of Sam being at the county fair showing cows and the aftermath of packing up an 18-year-old for college, I can’t help but pause and count all of my blessings.
It helps to remind me not to be sad.