It’s happening again.
It helps to stay busy. And I’ve sure been busy trying to find all the things I hid around my house last May when he came home. I’m searching for all those college items stashed away in cabinets, closets, and in the attic, not to mention the items I re-introduced into our regular lives. The tape, the scissors, the spatulas. Now I’m looking for it all and wondering where I put everything.
This year, I have only one son leaving for college, but he’s moving into a real house, with a real kitchen and his own furniture. Lucky for me, I have a surplus of furniture. Its makes me breathe a little easier about the preparations. My heart quickens at the prospect of “decorating” another house. (His poor roommates won’t know what hit them.)
And yet, I feel the familiar stone weighing the pit of my stomach. Monday is coming, and I will drive home in any empty car without my son. Without his humor, his affection, his happy face, his appreciation for a hot breakfast and a hot dinner. I won’t see him at lunchtime, when he stops at home between his two jobs. He won’t sit with us at night on the couch and watch what we’re watching.
I can picture his baby face and hear his baby belly-laugh. I can even smell the talcum powder. Even as I breathe deeply into my memory, I experience the present. I picture his bearded face and hear his deep laugh. I breathe in the scent of musky man shampoo and think how quickly the years have passed us.
Soon he will be happily hanging out with the friends he’s missed for the past three months. And he will likely be calling me about how to grill burgers and marinate chicken. We had planned to cook together all summer, but somehow, it didn’t happen. He’ll be learning as his stomach grumbles; that might be the best motivator anyway.
And perhaps, if I’m lucky, his stomach will draw him homeward from time to time. The lure of pork chops and fetticine alfredo may just land him back in my kitchen and back on my couch after dinner. He’ll come for cinnamon swirl French toast. And banana cream pie. And chocolate chip banana muffins. (These are all things I’m not going to teach him how to make!)
He is my baby, yet he is a man. What a curious oxymoron for any mother.
I send you lovely, tearful readers my best and non-judgmental motherly sympathies, especially for you first-time college-senders. The separation is painful. No embarrassment over that. It just hurts.
But don’t let yourself wallow in the suffering. A college-bound student speaks of parental success. It marks one of many milestones. You have created an adult who can survive without his mother. That is a great feat.
And even better, when he returns, he will bring a new appreciation for all the other things you managed to accomplish while you were teaching him to be independent. Breathe that in, too.