There are things no one really warns you about. I think we are just supposed to know. But sometimes a warning is nice. For instance, on the first day of your child going to kindergarten, you might need to take the day off work and cry while in the fetal position. I mean, isn’t five years old too young to leave the house for any length of time without you? They might need something from your “mother purse”, like a bandaid, or a tissue or a hug.
What I wish I would have had ample warning about was the senior year of high of school. I naively thought it would be a year full of complete and total fun. Its fun, don’t get me wrong, but I realized there was much more to it this summer when we took our first visit to a college tour. I planned and scheduled and took the day off work. I was ready and prepared. My mom never did this with me, so I was more than a little excited.
On the 2 1/2 hour car drive there, I realized I had her as a captive audience. If your child isn’t yet a teenager, cherish it because when they are, you never see them. We had a full day ahead of us of nothing but togetherness which I’m sure she tweeted, posted, and texted her dislike about. I will say she was nothing but pleasant during the trip. Telling me about her plans to backpack through Europe for the summer (do we all say that? is it a requirement?). I agreed. It is a good thing…maybe just not for my baby. Again, she might need something from my “mother purse”.
We arrive at the school and our tour guides are students of the university. They look twelve years old. Unlike the extremely mature adult that I considered myself in college. It was 107 degrees out, and unfortunately that is not an exaggeration. We walked from dorm to dorm, from science building to English building until we finally took a much needed cool air break that brought us to the chapel. An unexpectedly beautiful building. The young tour guide took this chance to talk about other activities around the school and my daughter, of course, asked about the national exchange student program. OK, that wasn’t part of the deal. I was willing to let her go to college…but another country? I sat there holding back the unexpected tears that threatened to appear and embarrass my daughter. Like funeral tears where you really have no control, they just start rolling down your cheek. But I did it! I held back the tears and was able to turn to my daughter as if I too was bored and thought it a good idea to go outside. “Whatever” I said when she asked what I thought….good answer, right?
That night as I lay in my bed trying to sleep, I imagined my daughter not coming home each and every night. Me not knowing where she was each moment of her life. I thought back to that first day of kindergarten. Sending her in with that huge backpack, worrying that she wouldn’t eat her entire lunch, hoping she made a “best friend”. I had to let it all go. Not only is she beginning a new chapter in her life, but so am I. No longer would I be required to rush home and make dinner each night. No longer would I have to plan a trip around school vacation. Gulp, I could change jobs! But, the best thing I realized is that even though she doesn’t need me as much as she did in kindergarten, I will always be her mom. There is some comfort in that. (I still keep the “mothers purse”.)