Patty Unleashed: 9.21.16
You should know I am not a crier. That’s mostly because I’m not a cute crier—you know, the kind you see in the movies, the beautiful woman who has a single tear falling down her cheek. No, when I cry, I am a sobbing, snotty mess. So I just don’t cry unless, of course, one of my kids leaves for college. And then I wail (always in the privacy of my own home, or some hotel, as my husband stands by knowing that anything he does will just be met with more sobs).
This fall was the sixth time I sent a child off to college. You would think all those times would start running together, but I can remember the first time I left my son at Arizona State University in the blinding sun, wondering how he would ever survive the heat. And all the times he pulled out of the neighborhood to make the drive to Tempe. Each and every one.
Now it is my daughter’s turn. The first year of college for her was, what’s the right word? Well, let’s say it didn’t go as planned. After spending so much time searching for the perfect college, you don’t really think about what happens if it isn’t. High school counselors should do us all a favor and tell us there are kids who transfer after their first year of college. Mine did it, and the world did not end.
Most of us have raised pretty smart and independent kids; they know when something isn’t the right fit. If we have done our job as parents, we will actually listen to them when they tell us. Of course, we will try to convince them otherwise because we need to be sure to give them a lecture about sticking things out, walking to school in the snow barefoot, and working in the factory to support our family at the age of 15. You know, be a parent.
Look at the bright side: the wrong college is not as serious as the wrong spouse. The break-up may feel painful at first, but most of it can be handled via email and a few phone calls. No attorneys need to get involved, no need for college spousal support. And a year wiser makes your child a bit more sure of what they really want in a college.
So you put the ‘scrap year’ behind you, and next thing you know, you find yourself standing in a dorm room again, wondering if all her stuff is going to fit in a tiny little closet. Then it’s time to say goodbye, so long, see you soon. You give her a hug and kiss, and whatever you do, you don’t turn for one last look because you feel the tears starting to form.
And just like last year, the song from Hall & Oates pops into my head. ‘She’s gone. Oh I, oh I’d better learn how to face it … ’ And then I start crying in a hotel room in New Orleans. While my husband watches and waits for it to pass. Back in St. Louis, I close the door to her room because I can’t stand to walk by it without her in it (or look at the huge mess she left). And like every other year, after I am all cried out, I realized I did my job as a parent. My child is gone, just like they are supposed to be and ‘I think I’ve got it, got the strength to carry on.’ (I promise to be funny next week).
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