Today I am repurposing bits of a blog I wrote over three years ago because all of a sudden these words have become relevant again. This past weekend I had the honor of helping my friend move her daughter Alexa into New York University for her freshman year. My personal on-the-job training with my own children in dorm decorating, skillset in hanging all sorts of stuff on walls and understanding the importance of the day made me a perfect fit. My job was to help make her daughter’s home away from home a space they both could feel comfortable and happy about.
From the moment I arrived to pack up our cars I could feel it. The unspoken heaviness reminded me all too quickly how emotional and fragile I once felt. Watching all the other families unloading cars, lugging bags up stairs and hanging endless strands of twinkle lights, I could see it in their eyes: People teetering on the edge of losing it.
As I guarded our pile of “stuff” on the New York City sidewalk, I saw a dad guarding his daughter’s pile too. “You doing okay?” I asked him. He turned to me and sheepishly shook his head east to west. With tears in my eyes I said, “I’ve done it, I get it, and after the tears slow down life will be okay. More than okay, pretty darn good actually. I am living, breathing proof there is life on the other end.”
So as I placed the last photo of her wall collage above her bed, I planned for my escape. My job here was done and it was time for me to leave them to it. Before I left her dorm room, I placed one of my angel coins in her top desk drawer for protection. You know, just in case.
It's Just Around the Bend My Friends...
I can feel it in the air. If my life had a Weather app it would read something like this: Storm Warning. These next few weeks will be unpredictable. Conditions are perfect for drastic highs and lows. Take time to prepare; gather tissues, hugs and memories. Hunker down, stock your home with favorite foods and activities to last these next few weeks. It should clear out soon.
This Life Advisory should not be a surprise to me. In fact, I’ve been preparing for it for some 20-something years. Actually 45 years if you count the years I dreamt of being a mom. Readying for the day the children I poured my heart and soul into both leave home for college. It seems so cruel we spend their lifetime preparing them to be independent enough to leave us. No more holding hands when crossing the street. No more cutting their food into non-chokable pieces. No more crazy schedules of after-school activities. No more making school lunches.
I am a little ashamed to admit it, but there were days when I wished for this day. Like the days I never got out of my pajamas because I was just so exhausted from listening to my baby cry while I practiced that Sleep Dr’s technique! Or those other times I hid in the bathroom for a sliver of privacy. I recall desperately craving a shower that lasted long enough to actually be able to shave my legs. For goodness sake, I attended any and all home parties just for some adult conversation.
I have many friends who are ahead of me in the Life curve. I watch them carefully to see how they fare. I ask careful questions and take copious notes. They say I will be fine after the first few weeks. And then there are those who urge me to be patient because this is the necessary step for me to receive grandchildren-- which are apparently the greatest gift in all the land!
I will really be fine, since there really isn't another choice. I am truly happy that all our hard work and life experiences made this moment possible. Our children are ready. They are eager to live independently. See the world. Meet new people. Get an education. Have a crazy good time. All we ask is they be safe. Look both ways before crossing. Choose the best kind of people to keep company with. Listen to their gut. Attend classes and take notes. While walking through campus, LOOK up--not down at your phone. Focus on eating healthy, but eat. Wash their hands often. Please call home. Oh and one last thing--have the time of your lives.
Moral: Cherish these times- they’ll be grown up before you know it!