The morning started like every other school day. Except this one was different. This was the day he was leaving.
As I went through the motions of getting my youngest son ready for his school day, I was preparing myself for my middle son to leave for college.
Amid the hustle of making breakfast and double-checking backpacks, I was trying to think of the little things he still needed to pack, and all the things I wanted to tell him. Time did not permit, however, and we hustled out the door.
But there was still so much I wanted to say.
I wanted to remind him to keep breakfast food in his room, because he likes to sleep til the absolute last minute. But there was no time.
We drove little brother to school in C’s car, with dad following in my packed SUV. Mr. Wonderful let me ride with my boy, allowing me to squeeze in the last few precious hours. After dropping his brother off, we rendezvoused for breakfast.
Once we settled in at a table my husband asked, “What Shakespeare play had that dad who gave the good advice to his son? ‘Neither a borrower nor a lender be…’”
“Hamlet,” C replied.
Then he looked across the table with a smirk and said, “Dad, don’t be a Polonius.”
His father smiled back in silent agreement.
But there was still so much more I wanted to say.
I wanted to remind him that I’d packed all the medicine he’d need if he got sick, and that his insurance card was in his wallet. And that if he needed anything, he had my credit card.
Instead we chatted about the campus, and its proximity to the beach. Then we got back in the cars and headed east.
For the next few hours, Slick and I chatted about many things. Some profound, some mundane. Some practical, some superfluous.
But there was still much more I wanted to say.
And before I knew it, we arrived at campus. We unloaded the car and unpacked his things. We discussed the importance of organization when mom wasn’t there to find things. We talked about the dynamics of living with a roommate. Not ready to separate, we went shopping for snacks and drinks and breakfast foods, and notebooks and pens and extension cords. We had lunch and laughed when he spilled ketchup on his shorts – and I wished I’d bought that stain remover thing I’d seen in Target. Then I remembered doing laundry with Mr. Wonderful in college, and smiled. He’d figure it out. And he’ll have the time of his life doing so.
We returned to the dorm and I felt a quiet satisfaction, knowing he was ready.
It was time for me to go.
Quickly, before he had a chance to see me cry.
I told him again how much I loved him, and how proud I was of the man he had become. And even though there was so much more I wanted to say, I simply said goodbye.
Good riddance, son. I hope you have the time of your life.
(Click the link, it all makes sense when you do.)
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Love this post…I remember when my youngest (now almost 20) left to school out of town for the first time post -high school. I was so emotional with the good-byes at the airport that I forgot to take pictures! When we were driving home from the airport, that’s all I could say, “We didn’t take a single picture!” As if that would have made the transition easier….but truth is he did great (thank G-d) and we’re proud of him (and mom did well too after a few days…)
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This is such a good reminder to enjoy my boys while I still have them under my roof. Time just speeds by, and someday my house won’t be filled with stinky socks and video games. Great post.
It does go fast. But remember, your job is to prepare them for adulthood, and their own independent life. You need to be as ready as them when that day comes.
Aw, Lisha. Lovely post. My oldest is in second grade and I know college is many years away. But damn, reading this made it seem that much closer. I can picture her as an 18yo, going to college, leaving her at her dorm… *sniff*
Every year goes a little faster than the one before it, Honest Mom. I swear this kid was just making rain catchers in Cub Scouts, now he’s all grown up and lives in another state. You’ve got time to get yourself ready if you start now!
It is such a surreal experience dropping our kids off at college and driving away, isn’t it? My oldest has already graduated but I remember it like it was yesterday.
It is surreal. My own drop-off experience as the daughter came flooding back to me, juxtaposing itself to being the mother doing the dropping off. I’m sure when the next one heads off it’ll be just as surreal.
Beautiful post. Even though it’s been more than a few years since my first went off to university, you brought back all the emotions of that day, making it feel like yesterday, not 10 years ago!
Thanks, W! I can imagine you’ll remember that day forever, just as I will. Thank you for the kind words.
I really enjoyed this! There are so many things I want to tell the beautiful little people I have created, but I bet those things multiply by 100 when those little people become BIG people!
College is such a huge step, and I hope it is a great experience… for both of you!
You tell them every day, with words and actions. And I found out that they really are listening, even when they don’t want to be. Blessings to you and your little ones.
Aw, saying goodbye is so hard! I can imagine the fullness of what you must be feeling.
My stomach was full of butterflies, my eyes were full of tears, and my heart was full of pride. A good thing by every measure. Thank you for stopping by.
A great off-to-college post, like your take on it!
Thank you, ma’am! As an over-thinker, I had a lot of pondering this time on how to do it better.
Such a wonderful post. I know its hard to let go but he is going to make some lifelong friends and memories there. College will see the birth of stories that will be repeated at every reunion, of pranks that will still bring tears to his eyes 20 years from now, girlfriends he will look back at fondly. It might even be where he meets his bestman. The place he will long to go back when he settles down with a job. I look back at college so fondly and as good as life is now, I’d go back in a heartbeat..:)
Your vision is exactly what I hope his experience turns out to be. He has been there a month now, and he’s having the time of his life. Just like I hoped. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, beingnenne!
Seems like those few extra hours really did the trick. Even though there was more to say, you didn’t need to. He knows anyway. I have many years until my boys leave, but I’m already dreading the moment. You were very brave and strong, momma. Good job.
Thanks, Misty. I am so grateful I got to ride with him. Yes, he knows. Evidently he was actually listening to what I was saying while he was rolling his eyes at me. Go figure.
I hope life at college has gotten off to a good start for your son.
It has! We’ve texted a few times, and I found a few smiling photos of him on the school’s Facebook page. He looks all happy and grown up, just like he’s supposed to!
I can’t even imagine how it feels, sending a kid off to college. Sending you lots of smiles 🙂
Thanks, Samantha! It’s been almost a week, and my tears are all dried up. I’ve seen a few glimpses of him on his school’s Facebook page, all smiling and happy. And I know he’s where he wants to be. He’s actually my second one to go away, but he’s a bit further away than his brother, and out of state. While the physical distance isn’t that much further, it feels very far away. Anywho… I’m doing fine now. And so is he.
All the trials that we endure as parents seem to me to be more stepping stones for the parents to let the child go, rather than for the child to take wing. As my oldest is only 8, I hope I am ready when the time comes for her to take flight.
Oh, absolutely! It was definitely harder for mom and dad than for the boy! But I’ve known all along that I only had them for a short time. I just didn’t realize how quickly that time would fly. Cliche, I know.
I visited your site, that’s quite a crew you have there! Thanks for stopping by here. 🙂
WE are taking our eldest to college on Friday. Fortunately I have his high maintenance sister to come back home to. She’s been waiting 14 years to get to be the only child…..
Meg, my youngest has waited 13 years for that privilege! But he also knows he now gets their share of chores, too. It’s been almost a week, and he’s slowly creeping into their bedrooms, sprawling out, having the entire upstairs to himself. 🙂
I’m thinking that as hard it must be to have a child leave home, it has got to be be better than having one that won’t leave home. But I don’t have any first-hand knowledge, so can’t know for sure. Nice post.
Thanks for the kind words, Shmoo. I’ve known for a long time that my job was to prepare him for that day, but that didn’t make it any easier.
I can’t even imagine how this feels..He probably wanted to cry too..
No, I’m pretty sure he just wanted me to leave. 🙂 But we had our moment later that day. Later that day I texted him the link to the song linked to the post (Good Riddance by GreenDay), and wished him good riddance. That’s probably when he had his tears, if he had them at all. But I know my boy loves me, and I know that it’s time for him to fly.
I cannot even begin to imagine sending one off to college–though I’ve only got 6 short years. I imagine it always feels like there will never be enough time……
Robbie, I believe you’re right. If I’d had 5 more years, I still couldn’t have said it all. Now I’ve got to trust that I’ve given him the roots he needed when he was with me, and that his wings are strong enough to carry him from here.
I am absolutely crying. My oldest starts 8th grade this year, but I can’t believe it will be high school next year and then…well…I’ll be feeling this way soon enough. So much to say and probably half of it will be met with “yeah, okay mom…” (insert eyeroll). So bittersweet. Well written, Mama. I felt it in my heart the whole way.
My youngest started 8th grade last week, so I’m in that place, too. 🙂 And if they’re rolling their eyes when you speak, it means they heard you. And if you weren’t sounding like a complete idiot to them, you wouldn’t be doing it right.
Thanks for stopping by, elleroy!
Oh the tug on my heart strings. Good for you for handling it all so well. You sound like a great Momma. But, yes, there is always more we could say…
It’s definitely a heart-tugging experience. And I think it would be sadder if I hadn’t felt this way.
It makes me anxious for you! I was a wreck just adjusting to the middle school this year. I fear I will never be as cool as you just made yourself!!:)
I am not looking forward to this in any form. Oh my.
I hope I didn’t make it sound too sad. When my firstborn went to college, I reminded myself that if I was sad, it meant I was thinking of myself. He was having the time of his life.
Ok LIsha ,this is the first time I have cried since I dropped Brandon off last Thursday.
Sorry, my not-so-anonymous friend. But they are going to have the time of their lives, aren’t they? 🙂
I was doing okay, reading your words, until I played the song .. and then the tears came. My oldest will be leaving for college in a few weeks; he’s turned out to be such a great kid, and I know he will have the time of his life, but it’s hard to think about. I keep telling myself that this was the goal, and he is so ready …
You’ve got your head in the right place, Jodi. This was always the goal. Indulge your feelings when it’s happening, then turn your thoughts to him. And wish him Good Riddance.
Oh, thank you. I read somewhere recently that while it’s hard to have them leave, the summer leading up to college is stressful because they can be a royal pain in the neck. That has been our experience (to a degree), so it’s a combination of good riddance! and Good Riddance. Either way, it’s all good …
Yes, it is. Let me know how it goes. 🙂
I will! Now, any advice on what to do with a 15 year old girl that is going on 24 going on 3? Sigh… :>)
I have three boys. The whole girl thing mystifies me.
Oh, thanks, Lucky Mom – I’m crying again, remembering how hard it was to walk out of my son’s dorm room last week. Yes, he’ll figure it all out, but part of me – a big part – didn’t want him to have to.
Sorry, Anonymous. You should see the pile of kleenex in the garbage can next to me right now. But, I think this might mark the end of my crying. By now, he’s having the time of his life!
Reblogged this on Amanda's Words / starfire8me and commented:
O MAN, MY OLDEST IS LEAVING FOR COLLEGE SOON TOO!!!!!!!
I suggest you bring plenty of kleenex. And perhaps a bottle of wine.
yeah, I don’t know if I can handle it.
i enjoyed this post – thank you.
Thanks, Michelle. It feels good to get those words out of my head. Now I can start smiling, thinking of all the fun he’s having. 🙂
ya and living the time of his life!!