When College is Here!

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This past weekend, we dropped our first born off to college for her Freshman year—we feel grateful she is 90 minutes away, just enough space for distance but also close enough for us to visit or her to be home if she needs us.    This is such an emotional time, it is truly hard to believe we are here, I swear she was just getting on the bus for her first day of Kindergarten.  What I expected and what actually transpired while dropping her off are a big surprise to me.   I am a deep person, I feel deeply, I care deeply, and while change is great, I experience these milestones in their lives so deeply and emotionally—kind of like a “happy-sad”—so happy for them but bittersweet as we say goodbye to the childhood years, and those times when we were so close in their daily lives.    

It was my birthday, which of course did not at all feel like my B-day because I was entirely focused on getting her moved in and of course, creating a space that feels comfy and like home to her, that was my goal for the day.   In true fashion, once we were setting up her room, I was in full production mode and doing what I love and something I do well, making spaces look and feel good.  Once we were done after hours of setting up and also a last minute trip to Target, it was time to leave.   It was surreal, that is the only way I can describe it, it just did not even seem real, it has not yet hit me that she is in college, and we are really here, at this point in life.  I walked her back into her building after she hugged us all goodbye, she quickly said I love you and “happy birthday Mom” as she walked down the hall, away from me. She was walking towards her next chapter, the chapter of college, the chapter of growth, the chapter of independence, and the best years of her life (even though it won’t always feel that way for her).  My eyes teared up, but I couldn’t let it out, she turned around because she knows me so well, she knows I would just watch her walk until she was out of my sight, and I kept watching, standing alone, watching my baby girl who is now a woman, walk. Away. From. Me.  Gulp.

While it all feels emotional, it really has not hit me.  My husband said he knows what that means, it will hit me, and it will come when I no longer need to be strong, strong for her, strong for our family and when no one is watching or there, I will have my moment.  My husband, on the other hand, cried like a baby, we were not even at the exit to get off the high way to take her there, and I saw tears rolling down his face, behind his shades that covered some of it.  I could hear his breathing change, and see him grip the wheel, as in holding on to it, like he wanted to hold on to her.  The crying for him continued throughout the day and weekend, I thought I would be the weepy one, and it was him instead.  

I find it so hard not to call her, text her and check in as much as I would like.  She will not grow independence if I am checking in often, while she needs to spread her wings.  It feels like a contest with my husband and I, we joke and say “she face timed me today,” we are keeping count on who she is calling and who is calling her.  I have changed up my routines, and I think I am avoiding my regular routine because I know she is now not part of that daily routine—every night after dance she would jump on our bed, play with the dogs, make us laugh and be full of hugs and humor!  I have not yet really thought about that not being there for us, I expect her to walk in the door at any time—I think I might have some denial, or perhaps, just perhaps I have some acceptance, maybe I have prepared myself for this transition.  

We are so thrilled for her, excited about the opportunities she has, and to watch her soar.  We are fortunate in that she is on the Dance Team so we will be able to see her at home football games, which will be a treat, and an excuse to see her.  I think that alone makes me happy, and excited, and at peace, while I adjust to this new way of life in our home.  

I think dropping a child to college is one of the hardest and most proudest things we will do.  It is full of emotion, even when we are not genuinely facing them.  
The thing about time is that we cannot slow it down, we cannot ask for more and we cannot get it back.  These life experiences are reminders to be present, reminders to live full out, enjoy the simple things, and to be with those that you love.  Make memories together, and hug often, hug your kids every day and in every way.  In our family, laughter is our love language, but hugs are always part of the conversation, and how we express our love for each other.  

No one prepares you for these milestones in motherhood, the period of childhood ends for your kids, but motherhood is always there, even when your kids are not.  I am so very grateful for a daughter that is a pure joy to parent, she is my girl, my heartbeat, my life.  We are blessed with her brothers who are also my heart beat and my life, and I am grateful I have the next year with my son, before he goes to college, and 3 more years with “the baby” before he goes off as well.  The nest is changing, and time is moving, and I am watching and feeling in disbelief, and asking “where did the time go.”

When they are little, the days are long (oh man, are they long).  But the years, the years just fly by.  

Pam Guyer