Day 21 of 31
Let me start by saying that I am typically not a crier. You know how there are people who cry and people who don’t? I almost always fit into the latter category. I know that seems strange since I someone who can “feel” emotions and I am a counselor who helps others manage their emotions. Perhaps that’s a topic for another slice…or for a therapy session.
I thought I was an expert at taking a kid to college. After all, I had done this twice before. When we took my first daughter we drove to DC and spent the night. The following morning we moved her into her dorm room and she went off to do freshman activities while we returned to the hotel. We met her the following morning, spent a little time with her, had lunch and left. It was emotional but I held it together pretty well. I shed a few tears when we were driving home but I was ok. Maybe I was ok because there were two other daughters waiting at home for me?
Fast forward 2 years later. We took my 2nd daughter to college and although I was sad to see her go, she did that thing that teens do when they have to separate. She was super cranky during the lead up, so although I was sad to say goodbye, it felt like it was time. On some level I think I was relieved that she pretty much hated us the last month prior to the drop off. She did not cry. I cried on the way home but held it together pretty well when I was still in her presence. Maybe I was ok because there was one more daughter waiting for me at home?
Fast forward 2 more years, which brings us to this year, just 6 months ago. It was time for my third and last daughter to leave the nest. We spent lots of time shopping and packing and she was easy going about it. There was not as much drama as the first two, but I attributed that to her personality and also my experience. After all, I had done this college thing twice before. I was an expert. I knew what to expect. In fact, she and I joked on and off all summer about the goodbye. I would say, “I’m not going to cry are you?” and she would say, “Obviously not”, and I think we both meant it.
Finally the day arrived. We drove up to school and moved her in. I helped a little with her room and we went to lunch. During lunch I could “feel” some hesitation from her but figured it would pass. After we ate it was time to bring her back to her dorm and then say goodbye. As we began walking up the hill I could feel it happening. With each step I took I became more emotional, but really did not want her to see it. As we got to the stairs leading up to her room I could see that she was also emotional. And then it happened. A tear silently rolled down her face. And then guess what happened? I cried…a lot. Also, she cried…a lot.
Since then I have wondered why the last one was the hardest one to leave. I think it’s because there were no others waiting for me at home. Don’t get me wrong. I am not currently sad. In fact, my husband and I really enjoy being empty nesters. I love not being responsible for dinner, or managing school and after school activities. My youngest daughter has adjusted beautifully to school and living away from us, just as her sisters adjusted.
Do I miss each one of my girls, absolutely! But the reality is that they are no longer little girls. That’s how it’s supposed to be. Now I have a different kind of relationship with each of them. It’s a relationship where they can now teach me about things as I continue to teach them about adult life that they don’t yet know. I will confess, I still love it when they call me, “Mommy” or they want to snuggle up with me for no reason but mostly I am proud of the people they have become.