Today I need to start with a story. I know it’s a story you’ve heard before. Hang with me (and please don’t roll your eyes).
At your elementary school, each class put on a show every year. When you were in second grade, you sang your first solo. I sat in the audience next to Dad with Pi on my lap and tears rolling down my cheeks as you sang. I cried silently because Pi was too young for me to want to try to explain to her why I was crying.
A few weeks later, she was in her first dance recital. Each time she performed, I cried. Somewhat less silently.
That summer was your first adventure at sleep away camp. I called Grandma as I was driving home after dropping you off. “How are you doing?” she asked in a voice that was clearly trying to figure out how to put me back together over several state lines. “I’m fine,” I answered, “Apparently, I can’t watch my children on stage without completely losing it, but leaving them with complete strangers—not a problem.”
True story. But you knew that.
And it has been like that ever since. Sending you out of state or out of the country has not been traumatic for me. I miss you, but I don’t cry. On the other hand, I have learned to wear waterproof mascara whenever you’re going to be singing.
I thought sending you to college was going to fall into the same “sending you off” category. But I am slowly coming to the realization that I might have been mistaken in that assumption.
When I left you with Grandma and Grandpa, I knew you were ready. I left you in the care of my parents, and I knew I’d see you in a few days.
When I sent you off to visit friends out of state, I knew you were ready to go. I put you into the care of a family I trusted, and I knew you’d come back to me at the end of the weekend.
When I sent you off to camp, I knew you were ready to go. I put you into the care of wonderful people, and I knew you’d come back to me in a few weeks.
When I sent you off to travel internationally, I knew you were ready to go. I put you into the care of a program I trusted, and I knew you’d come back to me in a month or two.
Now I’m sending you off to college. I know you’re ready to go. I know I’m putting you into the care of one of the best people I know—you. But this time I’m a little less sure I’m ready to let go.
Maybe it’s that this is the start of the process of you not coming home to me. Maybe it’s that I know this will shape and change you in ways I can’t even begin to imagine.
Maybe it’s that this is the start of saying good-bye in a bigger way. Of watching you make bigger and more independent decisions. Which is a good thing. Mostly.
I miss that little boy who came home from camp full of stories and hugs. But I can’t wait to see the You you will become.
In the meantime, I’m trying to decide if I need waterproof mascara to take you to college move-in…