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August 2012
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Ready or Not. Again.

My sister dropped her oldest son off for college last week. I’ve watched her this summer as she rode emotional arcs related to having her first child leave home. My daughter is only a year younger and I’m afraid I patted myself on the back a little about how sensible I was being about her entering her senior year. I honestly felt no apprehension. I even wrote a post or two in that vein. My smugness was justly rewarded when I waved the last of my kids out the door for their first day of school, turned, and smacked right into a wall of grief. It was actually more subtle than that metaphor implies. I was aware of something filling my head, so Howard and I had one of those conversations where I begin talking with a tiny thread of thought, spooling it out until suddenly I find that I’m holding an emotional tangle instead of a simple thread. All my thoughts unblock and I learn things about how I’m feeling by listening to the words which fall out of my mouth. The key sentences today were:
“I don’t want this part to be over. I’m going to miss this part.”
I meant this part of my life when all my kids are at home. Later I spoke words which I liked even less, because it implies a level of control freak in my psyche with which I am not comfortable.
“I’m going to miss being in charge.”
As much as I complain about it, I like being the organizer of our lives. I have all my people gathered close to me under one roof. I know I have to let them fly free. That is the point. It is what I’ve been aiming toward ever since the first minute I knew I was pregnant. But I grieve because this era of my life is going to end and today felt like the beginning of that end.

Today I was also tired, insomnia and the bio-rhythmic upset of getting up three hours earlier than during the summer, did not help any. I also felt silly to feel grief about something which has not actually happened yet. My daughter has a full year of high school ahead of her. She may well decide to live at home and attend one of the two universities within twenty minutes of our house. I could be years away from the first one flying off. I’m surprised to feel grief over this. I really thought I wouldn’t.

The good news is that the grief will pass. It is probable that any later sadness I feel on the matter will be less because I addressed some of the emotions today. This is why I did not attempt to hide from it. The feeling exists inside me, I acknowledge it and try to incorporate it, even if I feel silly or cliche about it.

My four kids came home from school happy. Kiki had nothing but cheerful words for her classes, even the dreaded physics class. She got a pair of science teachers she really likes. Link has concerns about his yearbook class. I’ll keep an eye on it to see if it needs adjusted. Gleek spent most of the ride home providing a comparative analysis of last year’s teacher and this year’s. Patch just says he liked his teacher.

We’re off and running; happy or sad, ready or not.

1 comment to Ready or Not. Again.

  • Austin Shackles

    I’m unsure if it’s good or bad to stay at home and attend college (or university) close by, or to move away. At one level, it’s a way of flying the nest that has more in the way of safeguards then simply upping and going to a strange city – but then again I know one youngster (I do school transport, so I have a kind of pseudo-family relationship with the kids I take to school – kind of like an uncle) who moved away to uni, didn’t like it and subsequently came home again. As usual, this was not the person one would expect to act in such a way.

    I guess it’s all down to the individual – I know kids who can’t wait to get out of the family home, and others who don’t want to leave it, I know one who left home at 16 to live with a partner. I don’t think any of these people are worse or better for this, it’s just how you are and what works for you.

    However, I do see your point also Sandra, even the limited and casual contact I have with these kids, when they leave it’s kind of emotional, I can’t imagine what it’s like if they’re your own kids.