Over the years, I’ve often wondered if, perhaps, somewhere in the dark recesses of my chromosomal make-up, I might be harboring an extra Y marker. I say this because I’ve never been the mom who gets weepy on the first day of kindergarten, high school, college or graduations from said institutions. In fact, when my youngest was headed for all-day kindergarten, I could barely control my euphoria. Move-in day to college has never been an occasion for multiple boxes of Kleenex. Is there something wrong with me?
We just moved our baby into her college dorm two days ago. After going through this with her three older brothers, I was more than ready to join the ranks of the Empty Nesters I so envied. Everyone warned me, though. “Oh it will be different with the last one.” Hmmm…I’m not thinking so… “Oh you’ll see. Because she’s the only girl, you’ll feel your eyes well up as your heartstrings tug away. Just be prepared.” Well, okay.
So, we moved her in, got her bed all made with new blankies and pillows. Set up her desk with laptop, pens, highlighters, and stapler. Hung her clothes, folded her undies. Nothing. No salty moisture dripping from the corner of my eye. Pulling out of the parking lot, I spotted a woman hugging her daughter (well, I assumed it was her daughter…otherwise it was very weird) and sobbing. I mean she was sobbing. Really? Again, I ask: what’s wrong with me? I’ve always welcomed this moment as the natural process of life. I mean, shouldn’t it be good thing that our kids are headed off to start this new and exciting chapter? Yes, it is a milestone; a corner turned. And for that, I understand, and even experienced a bit of emotion. But, only because at that moment, I’ve just so proud of them. My BWB partner related a story being on a campus visit with her son years ago and they happened to meet up with a classmate of his and his mother during the school tour. The mother started sniffling and, as tears ran down her cheek, apologized saying that she always cried on these campus visits. Seriously?? On campus VISITS? There’s just something wrong with that. That’s not normal.
I have to admit, though, I have been texting Mary Kate probably more than I should. It’s not that I’m so emotionally bereft that I must always be in constant contact. It’s just that she’s living in a dorm that is far off campus and because of that, her room is equipped with a small kitchen she shares with another dorm. Sounds great, but I don’t expect her to be cooking at all and didn’t even think to pack any food with her. And even though there is a convenience market in the building offering microwaveable meals for purchase, I also neglected to pack any kind of eating utensils, plates, or vessels from which to sip a beverage. I mean, there is that Dunder Mifflin mug on her desk filled with pens, pencils, and white-out, but…no she probably shouldn’t use that. And, there’s a bus system the kids use to get to campus and dining halls, but I’m sure she hasn’t figured out the bus routes. I know it will all happen in good time. Every kid manages to figure it out and she will, too. But, when her brother lived in that same dorm as a freshman, he said he didn’t eat for the first few days of school because he just wasn’t sure how to get to the cafeteria. So that, combined with a parent’s natural desire to know their child has found a friend has me regularly texting to ask how her days have gone.
Soon, her days will be filled with classes, auditions, and hours spent in the practice rooms of the Music School. She will have a set routine and will probably be less frequent responding to my texts, which, I’m sure will also decrease over time. Well, except during our favorite shows: Real Housewives of Various Cities, Million Dollar Listing LA and New York, Dance Moms, Honey Boo Boo…
UPDATE: One year later…
1. She made friends
2. She LOVED being away at school
3. She figured out the bus system and…
4. She couldn’t wait for school to start again (how many times do you hear a kid say that?)
So, a bit of unsolicited advice for you puffy-eyed, red-nosed, kleenex-clinging parents: Dry those eyes, give your kids a big hug and a kiss, tell them you’re proud of them and let them take that first step towards independence and becoming the person you want them to be. Then pour a glass of something and toast your spouse for a job well-done. And, don’t worry, as soon as you clean their rooms, they’ll be back. They never really leave.