In the midst of it all, we're getting my daughter and oldest child ready to leave for college. We're down to less than a week now, shockingly enough, and the child is so high on life it's almost insulting. I mean, I get it. I've been there before. But so far the only "I'm going to miss...!" statement has been made about our pets. About her parents: nothing. About her brothers and extended family: nothing. About the animals? Nearly shedding tears!
I offered to let her take one or more of our animals with her but so far she hasn't agreed to that. At least not officially. Would she notice if there was a cage in the back of the van, along with her other possessions, on move-in day? I could probably cover any animal noises with coughs and other bodily noises. How long would it take her to notice, I wonder? Could we make it as far as her room?
Today's excursion was for curtains and an extra set of sheets. Afterward I took her for sushi at her favorite restaurant. It was a mother/daughter linen day. Funny, though, we got home to find we'd somehow misplaced one of her curtains, so she's just now run back to the store for it. Poor dear! A point for her: it is about fifteen minutes each way, but it's not as if the child has much else to do right now. She's home while her brothers are in school, for goodness sake, her only responsibility packing and buying things. Kind of difficult summoning much sympathy from those of us who work and do things like dishes and laundry, while m'lady listens to music, plays on Facebook and naps...
But we all do that, don't we. Those who go away to college, I mean. There's that lagniappe of time, between high school and any responsibility to think of, when life's as easy as it will ever get. Once she's in college the work will be tremendous. When she comes home for summer break she'll have to find a job and work for her next year's textbooks. Though, come to think of it, winter break will be another nice, long stretch of time in which she can lounge on the sofa - or her bed, usually - nothing much expected of her. And she'll be so feral by then I can't see her helping out around the house much, which she never did before, either, save her job to empty the dishwasher after meals.
Kids today. How easy they have it now but how much more difficult when they're out of college and there are no jobs. So maybe I shouldn't be so jealous and petty...
Her room is a pile of boxes, a suitcase full of her winter clothes packed and ready. There are laundry baskets, little drawer units, basic non-perishable foods, etc. all over the place. The child is ready to go! She even has most of her text books, having bought them online at Amazon for much less than the college bookstore.
All she needs is for it to be next week, so she can move in and send us away. I imagine her jumping up and down, once our car pulls away, squeaking with joy. And in our car, silence for the first half of the trip while we each mentally come to terms with having dropped off our first to leave the nest.
And a strange feeling it will be. I know it already. I feel it already, though it's nothing compared to resuming life without her next week. Will I forget she's not there and keep calling her down for dinner for a few days? Probably. When you lose someone to a move or death it's easy to momentarily forget they're not there anymore. It's a heart-dropping feeling. Though, it's not as if she's always given us an easy time of it. But do any of them?
This is what's been consuming all of my free time, my dreams and all the time - and money - spent running around to so many different stores, picking up so many essentials. It's really a lot to deal with, especially the closer it gets. Last night I dreamed she was a baby again: though in the dream she was the youngest and not the oldest. We were in the midst of some natural disaster, on a train with wooden floor boards that had lots of soft wood and even some big, gaping holes. I was holding onto her, trying to keep her from wandering, falling through the cracks, while also watching her brothers, who were toddlers. And I think, looking back on it, it's fairly evident the fear of letting go, of setting her out in the world, where I no longer have the slightest control over how the world treats her, is ruling my mind. There are dangers, obvious and hidden, and I can still remember her as a wee one, nestling her head against my neck.
But such it is. You grow them, bear them, take care of them - and struggle with them - for eighteen years, then out into the world they go. Well, not permanently. There'll be a four-year period in which to adjust to their comings and goings. Will that help matters? I think so. Holidays and breaks, plus our visits there, will ease the transition. I have no idea how far from home she'll settle but that's a way out and I'm not ready to think about that just yet.
Still, it's a universal life stage, a moving from parent to adult and adult, not quite on the same level but not quite not anymore, either. She's an independent, self-assured child who knows what she wants and reaches for it. Though I'll never claim to have been a model parent I must have done at least some of it right to have produced her. A little puzzling, though, when I think of it... But anyway.
She's going and soon. Life will be so different, and much more poor. She'll do well and have the time of her life. We'll adjust to life as a family of four rather than five. We'll all get through it but she'll have the better deal by a long shot. I'm trying to look at it as different, rather than good or bad. Technology will allow us to get in touch anytime, to send "I'm thinking of you" texts, even Skype if we want. The world's a smaller place now. Still, it feels an awful lot bigger when you set your child off into it.
Complex, isn't it? But isn't it always, in one way or another. Just different. That's the way it will be.