We dropped off our oldest at college this past weekend. Ten hours away. Essentially, a lifetime apart for a mother who worries. I know I shouldn’t, but I do. I will. I’m a mother, so I just know I’ll worry.
For instance, I worry about this: See all this concrete on the ground? He’s on the 3rd floor. The railings aren’t exactly what I’d deem strong, and I’m thinking “Boys – always wrestling, fighting, or something… It only takes one move to fall to doom!” Honest. The bad thoughts are just running in circles around my brain! And I can’t stop them, try as I might.
I am in a netherworld that I genuinely didn’t foresee on the horizon. This despite the fact that my son has been away at boarding school for the past three years. So I really shouldn’t be this mopey, but I am. I shouldn’t be this fearful, but I am. I shouldn’t be so many things, but I am.
Why? I guess it’s because this time it’s more real because he’s so far away. Before, if he needed something I could get it to him quickly. I could drive down to watch his sporting events, take him out to dinner for his birthday, bring him home when he was sick, and see him for every break. Now, I won’t see him for his birthday, my birthday, Mother’s Day, or just any old day. I certainly won’t be driving to have dinner with him anytime soon, unless magically, gas starts costing less than $1 or time travel becomes possible. If he’s sick, I can only offer sympathy long distance. For now I’ll just have to imagine him in his dorm room…
And in only – only! – 5 years, my other two will both be away at college as well. In some respects, I’m looking forward to having no interruptions while I’m in the bathroom (even at 17 they’ll stand on the other side of the door and ask if a shirt is still in the wash), conversations with my husband where I can actually complete a thought in my head because no one is asking me if a shirt is still in the wash, and time to read what I want to read when I want to read it.
Yeah, that all sounds wonderful, but truly, so much of my life and my identity, and let’s face it, a great deal of my pleasure has been derived by looking after my family. To spend time focusing on me just seems so, so, well… I just don’t know what it seems like. At least, not yet. I mean, we’ve all heard the old adage that “to take care of others, you have to take care of yourself first.” It makes complete sense, and I try to do that in many ways. I’m trying to read for the sheer joy of it again. I exercise to be healthy, but I still eat Peanut M & M’s and ice cream if I want. I consciously make time to spend with my husband when I can. I kick everyone out of the room on occasion so I can indulge in a weepy chick flick. And I’m letting my kids shoulder more and more of the household “to do” list. See? I am working on it!
Still… I can’t imagine – truly – what life will be like without kids in the house. What will I do with myself? Take classes at the local community college? Spend time baking sinfully decadent desserts? Paint? Write? Take sky-diving lessons? Or will I just putter around the house decluttering the freezer and weeding my flower beds? All things considered, I’d rather take the sky-diving lessons than weed, but honestly, the closer I get to that day, the more I discover how much I enjoy my children. I love being with them. I have fun with them. I laugh with them. I love to cuddle with them, play games with them, and watch Wipeout with them. In short, I love them!
And the closer I get to the “end” of Mommy-hood, the more I discover that I have loved absolutely every single minute of it!