Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Off to College

Off to College

My oldest daughter is about to head off for college. I get asked a lot, “are you just devastated?” or “oh, I’ll bet you’ll cry won’t you?” Up until a year ago, I’d have laughed both of those off with a rallying cry of “no way. I’m so excited for her. I’ll be happy for both of us.”

But sometime last year I ran into a friend at Starbucks, who I would have gauged to be as sensible a parent as myself. She was stirring her coffee, gazing into space. I said “Hi Robyn. What’s up?” She sighed, and said she’d just seen her son off to college after his winter break. I assumed my usual cheerfulness and inquired after where he was going, and how it was going. She slowly turned her gaze back to me, and said “it’s so hard to see him go.” We talked a bit and I learned that she had been as excited to have him have his college adventures as I am for my daughter, but the reality of his leaving home, and the reality of those emotions threw her for a loop. She was happy for him, but deeply touched by his absence. I thought a lot about that over the coming months.

As my own daughter’s senior year approached, i found myself in a delicate balance of joyful anticipation and respectful consideration. I knew that I couldn’t know how I’d feel when she actually had moved away, but I could pay close attention to this, her senior year and treasure it and be conscious of it. And that’s what I did.

This year has been great. We’ve done things together, just she and I, and she and her sister and I. I don’t beg her to stay home ever, as her achieving independence is exactly what she should be doing, but I make myself available to her whenever she wants to hang out. I am making a conscious effort to treasure this particular chapter of the book. After all, this is still part one; the part where she lives at home.

I am thrilled that she found a college that she’s excited about. I love that she’s ready to move on. Will I be sad? Of course. Will I cry. Most likely. Will I gaze into space while stirring my coffee at Starbucks after winter break is through? Who knows. But I do know that I am ready to read the next series of chapters in this book. And now, she’s writing it on her own. What fun.

1 comment:

  1. Perfectly said, Judy. I'm getting ready to send off child number 2. Easier in some ways, and so much more difficult, too! Good luck with transition!