In August, we dropped my oldest off at college. He is living on campus at a university that is almost two hours from our house. It’s not that far, but far enough to feel the distance.
As we moved him into his room and helped him set up his dorm, even running to Target at the last minute for some things, we were in the heat of the moment. Our kid was going away for the first time, and my husband and I were coping with it okay (and I’m a college professor, so you would think this would be easy as I’ve been around it as my occupation). My daughter, who some wondered if she would deal with it well, handled it great. She was now Queen of the Castle.
As we said goodbye to him, my husband and I both swallowed hard, hugged him, and wished him well. My friend and colleague, Leeanne, had told me not to cry when I bid him goodbye—that he needed to feel good and not sad about us saying “so long” for a while.
We didn’t break down. We went about our lives. We keep in touch with our devices and check in weekly. Sometimes more.
Then, my son came home for Thanksgiving.
Honestly, I don’t know if it was the holidays, being together with my parents and my husband’s parents, all of us sitting around the table telling family stories, but over those few days, I was dreading the thought of him being gone again.
My son adds a wonderful calmness to our house. He is kind and loving and is a good person—a good man.
I got choked up hugging him goodbye when he had to return after Thanksgiving, and I cried. I can be a sentimental sap sometimes, an incurable hopeless romantic, and a person with a heart that is tempered with a great deal of emotion.
Growing older has been something that I fight with constantly, if I’m being completely honest. Aging and watching time fly by—I’m not a fan of it. I don’t like my nagging hip problem, the lines around my eyes, or the extra weight around my tummy that is stubborn and seems to love me more than I love it.
And I certainly don’t like the speed with which my kids have grown up. I miss them being little, of their eyes at Christmas when they woke up to Santa’s delivery, of hearing their voices when we came through the door from work and they were excited to see us, and of the wonder that filled them as they discovered new things and we shared experiences. Working a lot, going to graduate school, and being generally busy with community things in our daily lives made time move so fast; if you don’t force yourself to stop and engage in the moment, you’re in danger of missing so much.
And what you have to learn for yourself as parents is that you’re going to miss them as they grow and become independent, and a little ache of longing for times gone by will take up residency in your heart.