Just over a month ago, I dropped off my first-born at college 2 states away. 11 hours by car. About 3 by plane, including the long car drive from the airport. During the summer months, I felt like I was in an emotional holding pattern, but I didn’t indulge in heaving sobs over C’s impending departure. There was no time. I, as C so astutely surmised, deflected my emotions through the busyness of dorm room purchases and logistics planning, in addition to my job as a tutor and community volunteer. Busyness is my usual modus operandi during times of emotional stress; the busier I am, the less time I have to feel–anything.
Honestly, the separation from C really has gone easily. Far easier than even I expected. When friends, with their sorrow-filled eyes, ask, “So, how are you doing?” I usually respond, “I must be a wire-framed-monkey mother, because it’s been really easy. I miss spending time with C, but it’s all good.”
Were there tears? Of course there were tears. But not many, because I’ve been preparing for this for several years now. Really, since her birth. And, more importantly, so has she. Yes, I miss her, but she’s at a school that she loves, I love and, to quote her, makes her feel she’s finally where “she belongs.” Music to a mamma’s ears.
Now, a month in, she’s settled into a new routine and so have I. We usually say hello in the morning and share a quick recap of our days in the afternoon via text. Her days are busy and so are mine; hers with classes, studying (hopefully), and friends, and mine with homeschooling, tutoring, and volunteering. And, with the knowledge there would be a large void left by C’s absence and my requirement A find an additional volunteer service opportunity, we’ve recently added a baby to our family, making the days–and nights– around here even busier and leaving in tact, intentionally or not, my modus operandi.
What woman approaching 50, as firmly attached to her estrogen patch as it is to her, thinks bringing home a baby is a good idea? I always thought the “transition years” would be about moving toward the “empty nest”, toward fewer responsibilities, not feeding schedules and potty training. But, life is funny.
Our little bundle arrived on September 7th when he was 2 days shy of his 2 month birthday. The first couple of days were misleading. Fatigued from his journey from California, he slept, but we were still up every 90 minutes through the night. With every stir and whimper, my eyes flew open. Despite the fact that A and I have alternated “night duty” and that the short 90 minute stretches are now measured in hours, dawn has arrived far too early over the last 3 weeks, even for this morning person. But, it’s worth it: the snuggles; the bouncy personality convinced mornings were made for play; the confidence of a baby, certain everyone wants to be his friend. And the truth is, they do because he is mighty cute. However, it was the suckling in his sleep that stole my heart, made me think of my own babies and just how fast the years pass.
He’ll be with us for the next year before he heads off to “college” to become a guide dog for the blind. Friends and strangers often ask, “How will you be able to let him go?” I know it won’t be easy; he’s sitting next to me as I write this, looking adorable, melting even more of my heart. I also know that just as there were tears when I stole that last glimpse of my daughter in the rearview mirror, there will be tears when Keebler leaves to finish his training. And, just as I did when I drove away from her, I will remind myself my job was always to prepare him for his future, and then let go.
But, if you call to ask how I’m doing next fall, don’t be surprised if you find me busy. Really busy.
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