Just Last Week

Just last week I pulled into my driveway with a brand new baby. I took a deep breath and brought him inside our house, remembering the words of the nurse who discharged me. When worried I couldn’t handle the job without professional help, I implored her to come home with us. She smiled and told me, “Just love him. You’ll figure out the rest, I promise.”

Just last week I dropped a three year old off at St. Andrew’s preschool for two and a half hours. He was very brave and excited to be there, and I held my tears until I got to the parking lot. Then I went to Target and shopped child-free for the first time in three years. At pick up time, we both were very happy and proud of ourselves.

Just last week I dropped off my Kindergartener to school, and then spent the rest of the day baking cookies and waiting for him to emerge from the big yellow school bus. He emerged, and we ate cookies.

Just last week I sent my twelve year old to Washington, DC for a week long leadership program where he arrived knowing no one and returned with new friends from all over the country.

Just last week I gave my sixteen year old car keys for the first time and then proceeded to practice the breathing exercises I learned in yoga so many years ago. He came home, but I still continue to do those breathing exercises.

Just last week we started to receive college mailings and tour universities, but it still seemed like something very far into the future.

This week everything feels different.

As we’re counting down to the beginning of senior year, I am still pulling up to the same driveway I did seventeen-plus years ago. But there are no more car seats, diaper bags, Little Bear, and favorite stuffed bunny. There are no more babysitters, camps, play dates, comic books, Legos. I am keenly aware that this time next year, God willing, we will be packing up for college. It is simply an impossible thing for me to imagine without tears springing from my eyes.

I expected next summer to be difficult, but I was not prepared for everything I would be feeling this summer. I know I am a gifted worrier, but isn’t this a bit premature?

Just last week, when they gave me this baby to take home, no one warned me about how fast eighteen years would go by. They never told me part of the job requirement is to set him free into the wild one day, and that day comes faster than you’d ever expect. But I continue to love him, and hopefully I will figure out how to handle all the rest.


10 thoughts on “Just Last Week

  1. I do not know how you feel as a parent – but I do remember being 18 and heading to college. I remember being so excited. I also remember knowing that I was prepared for it. Not because of the things I learned in school, but because my parents prepared me to be an adult and prepared me to move out and into a college life.
    I know you are preparing him, but I am sure that doesn’t make it any easier!

  2. Had trouble commenting on this. Anyway, beautifully written. Hope Jennifer reads it!!!


  3. I sent my only child to college a few weeks ago. She’s only 1/2 hour away, but that doesn’t make any difference….sure, it would be more difficult if she attended a college that was hours away, but that’s only a small part of what makes it so difficult. My husband didn’t understand why I was so sad….”Aren’t you happy for her? This is good for her….” he would say. Yes, I’m happy, yes, it’s good for her, but I am SAD. I am sad because this is it….no more driving her to school every morning, or surprising her by picking her up at the bus stop and heading to Starbucks for a little after school treat. There are no more sleep overs at our house with her friends, no more “hey Mom!” shouted for various questions that only I had the answers to…..my life has now changed again. Drastically. When you have an only child, you get to go through everything ONCE. All those “firsts” in your child’s life from infancy – 18….those precious, moments that melt your heart because only out of the mouth of a child could something so honest and sweet and beautiful make your eyes well up with tears of joy and love……Yes, there are new “firsts” on the horizon; I get that, I really do….and I look forward to them as well. But all the sweet days of popsicle-stained lips, while catching fireflies in the summer nights are gone. And I for one, will miss them terribly.

    • Thanks for your heartfelt comment, Desi. I’m sure this is a time of very mixed emotions, and I can certainly relate to the sadness. But congratulations on getting your daughter off to college and having done your job so well. I hope this new chapter is rewarding for both of you.

  4. Really can relate to and greatly enjoyed what you wrote. I keep thinking this whole graduation thing should be having a nostalgic effect on my daughter as much as it is me. But then I was thinking back the other day to my senior year and had the realization that I was not one bit mindful of what my parents must have been thinking or feeling with their youngest child graduating. I remember being a little nostalgic about the end of my high school years but mostly just ready to barge ahead into anything and everything. And so it was in that moment of reflection that I realized our kids most often aren’t going to share our sentimentality over their endings and resulting new beginnings. I feel that the emotions a parent feels as a child progresses ever steadily toward adult independence are the result of them having already “been there” There are things a parent feels that you only come to recognize and realize as you live them. We all have that wise older relative or friend or coworker who counsels us to appreciate our children while they are young because they will be grown before you know it. For me that person was my Aunt Arven and she would say that to me every time we would see her. I remember thinking as I was chasing my 3 girls under the age of 4 and my 7 yo son that this lady was cute but a bit out of touch because there were seemingly endless years ahead that I was going to be doing this whole mom thing! Now I joke to my friends with younger kids that I have become “that mom”. The one with the knowing look in their eye and the patience of Job when it comes to handling those sweet little infants and toddlers because you have lived to see what you were being told was absolute truth! Seeing your children forge ahead into the great unknown is without a doubt a complete collection of just about any given emotion you can imagine!

    • Thanks for your comment. Yes, you are absolutely correct about the collection of emotions and becoming “that mom.” When I wrote that post this last summer, I had no real idea of the college application process that was still in store for us. I am happy (for the present moment) to be off that crazy roller coaster and trying very hard to enjoy the last few months of our family being all together.

  5. Pingback: Commencement Means Beginning | Mom Mom's Apron

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