Sunday, September 19, 2010

They're not dead, they are just going off to college~

Too many friends dropping off their children at college this year. Too many stories of hugs and tears. Too much to digest.

I have literally avoided thinking about it all and projecting until I see a photo or hear a story and then those familiar pangs begin to pull at my heart.

"The most important job of my life is done," I heard one father say. But that's not it at all. Our kids will still need us, but just in a different way and I'm not ready for this different way.

They will call when they are sick, or hurt by a troubled love, or need money, or advice. It's the day to day, take for granted luxury of living under the same roof that will be gone. And if not gone forever, forever changed.

Since I began writing about this separation process I have begun to understand the magnitude of this simple event--dropping your child off to college. For our generation, the generation of ALWAYS being there, the separation feels like the great divide in the Grand Canyon. Why is it so much harder for us to let go?

For lots of us mommies, we happily gave up careers to raise our tiny tots. And those of us who figured out how to work and ALWAYS be there, we happily gave up sleep and any time for ouselves. And then they leave us. So quickly. And that's what is supposed to happen.

I have little to say to my friends who are just back home, walking past their son or daughter's empty room. I say stupid stuff like, "Your child is going to be so happy!"

Inside I know what I want to say, "Cling tightly to their ankles with all your force and don't let them step across the threshold. Hold on tight."

I'm selfish, I know. I have a year to learn how to put my child's need before mine. I thought I was doing this for the last 17-years...but was I? Are my needs and my kid's need inexplicably linked?

To all my brave friends, I applaud you. Wildly. And cry as much as you want. You deserve it for a job well done!


  1. Terry, good to see you again! I just try to remember that everything I've done as a parent was to actually raise grown ups. Of course, it helps that I'm actually a million times better at the tween/teen thing than I was at the baby thing. I really like talking to the more complex mind and I like the kids being so similar to me in their outlook on life.

    Still, I don't like when they go away and I am pretty caught up in parenting. It's going to be a shock.

  2. Hi Terry!...Thanks for writing about this...:)...I'm up at quarter to four thinking about our son having left the house yesterday...we found our dog in our son's room sleeping there tonight...taking in his scent for comfort I assume...I certainly knew where she was coming from...but I did capture one of the best pictures of him, smiling, just as he is about to start his new life at college. So it was sweet indeed that HE was ready, and it helped ME be ready...Nature has its ways of helping us to be ready when the time comes, as it always does...a comforting thought. Big hugs and thank you for your perceptiveness and your compassion for your friends in their moment, and for taking the time to mark the transition with your eloquence. We'll be there for you, too!...But you should know, also, that everybody I have talked to says it's not as bad as it seems, they're back in 6 weeks for Thanksgiving, then another month for the Holidays,...then the stretches get longer, but by then you are more the calendar helps, too...At least we have that, a tiny bit of mercy...:)...With much aloha, yer pal, Mal.

  3. I'm going to have a really hard time with this in 10 years. Really hard.

  4. Terry, good to see you writing again. I am several years from this process, but I don't doubt for a second it will be hard. Sending you hugs.

  5. Those father's words are so bittersweet. As a parent and a child, I would say that I don't ever remembering needing my mother more than when I became a mother myself. So while I agree that the relationship shifts once our kids move out, I don't think the work is finished (for better or worse!).

  6. Oh, this post is heartwrenching. Have you seen Toy Story 3 (the boy leaves for college and the mother sniffles at the the sight of his empty room)? I cried even though my son is 6. I have been preparing for this day since day 1. Not a good way to live, I know. But I love reading your perspective on all of this. I feel that I go through little separations every day. It's happening right before our eyes, although the departure for college is like the grandslam of it all. You are a fabulous writer!

  7. I would like you to enlarge this post. I like the content and the way it was written, so I would like to get more reading of the type.

  8. This is still an interesting comparison in it you can see a lot of feelings and exaggeration.

  9. I'm excited to see your writing again, it is really touching! Thanks so much for being so honest and sincere with us!