It’s no surprise, but simply a rite of passage. I’ve been through the trenches of ear infections and croup, middle school drama and all the sleepless night of high school, waiting for those test scores, or the back door to open with that squeak that sounds like nails on a chalkboard, but refuse to have my husband fix it with WD40. That sound is like music to my ears. I can turn my head over on the pillow and fall asleep.
The first time we did a drop off at college, we stayed for the parent orientation and made a weekend out of it. I remember staring at my husband when we checked into the hotel. Our daughter was off to her new normal. Making new friends, playing capture the flag with all the new kids on her floor….it felt like time stood still. We were staring at each other not knowing what to say or do.
Sure, then we did the drop off with our second one. I have to be honest, it wasn’t any easier. I still had that void, sad mama heart feeling, when I went to the grocery store and saw a mom pushing one of those carriages that looks like a car.
Where did the time go?
I have another one coming up not far behind, not done with high school, and heck, we’re not empty nesters yet. And this one, without any doubt, will leave the toilet seat up, finish all the food in the refrigerator, and text me because they forgot something for school, but our new normal is a party of 3.
Party of 5 seemed to have a much better ring to it.
Of course I lingered with my good-byes on move in days. I helped organize the room, made sure they had everything they needed. My husband was exhausted with the trips up and down the steps carrying things, and I could see it on his face, when it was simply time to go. “Honey, they have everything they need. Let’s hit the road, the traffic is going to be crazy.”
But they didn’t have ME….Mom
You know that person who walked the floors with you until you would stop crying, or put a band aid on every cut and scrape, and held your hand or stroked your head when you had a bad day.
These good –byes are tough.
Now I know why my mom stood at the door waving every time I pulled away. No matter if I was going a few blocks or across the pond. She was always there to wave good-bye. I remember even turning around to the kids in the car and saying, “wave to grandma, and blow her a kiss”.
I suppose these good-byes are milestones. We want to raise confident kids that turn into competent adults….and it’s their time to soar. But I do wish my mom was still here to ask her what she felt like all the times she stood in the door and waved good-bye. Because now it’s my turn….and there are a whole lot more good-byes these days.
Now there have been several good-byes since those first college drop- offs. As a matter of fact if seems that this phase, or new season of life, comes with a lot of good-byes. Nothing really prepares for it. Just imagine your mom standing there watching you leave time and time again. The hug, the kiss….another hug, a whisper of encouragement.
It’s their time.
I’m still needed. Just in a different way. These milestone good- byes far surpasses potty training, or passing the driver’s test. This one proves that they’re ready to go. They’re confident, competent, independent and forever loved.
“I’ll text you when I get there mom” they always say as they walk away heading for the train station or the airport.
“Be the best version of you”, I say. “Don’t dangle your toes on the edge, jump in with both feet and have fun”. “I’ll see you soon.”
And I know they’ll be back. They always come back. More independent, a little wiser and more confident, and that’s what matters.
They will all come back, maybe not all at once, but they always know there’s a vacancy sign on the door.
Our party of 5….no matter what the distance will always come back.