I’ve had a lot going on these last several weeks. I’m sure anyone reading this would also say the same! Sometimes it definitely “Rains when it Pours”. For me, it was The Holidays, Followed by the Family Cruise, the St. Jude Red Carpet for Hope Gala, my Father hospitalized for double pneumonia for two weeks etc. And just two days before the St. Jude Red Carpet For Hope Gala, we dropped our son off at USC to begin his First Semester at college. He was a “spring semester” admit so he Finally just started college a Few short weeks ago.
Obviously, so many people my age have traveled this road of college “drop off”. In Fact, many people my age already have children who have gotten married and are having grandchildren (or have had grandchildren) too. What can I say? I think I am a “late bloomer”. When I look back, I was the last among my friend group to experience some important milestones along the way. I keep waiting for the time when I will be in the same time frame of everyone else? Won’t there come a time when a matter of a couple year spread of my children won’t segment me from many of my peers? I’m not sure I’m articulating that concept so well. In any case, it was Finally time for me to experience the First born’s “launch” into collegiate life. I just want to say this: Everyone was right about all of it.
Yes, the “launch” was bittersweet, and YES, upon reflection, it happened in a blink of an eye. I prided myself somewhat on the Fact that I contained my tears when I said my Final goodbye and hug. For a Few different reasons, I elected not to “lose it” at the moment I left campus. I did my mental headwork ahead of time and convinced myself that, given all the other difficult challenges I have encountered over a 53- year life span, this was “nothing” on the spectrum. I told myself that his departure and ensuing journey was a privilege and that nothing about his being able to attend college at a great school in a Fabulous setting was “bad”. I chose to look at the positive side and suppressed every possible negative thought there was. Again, I decided to look at his departure as a celebration of sorts. I had written a sappy note and left a bag of hershey’s chocolate kisses as a token of all the motherly love I Feel for him. (The note contained some “motherly advice” coinciding with some similar to messages given by a Few of the speakers/Faculty at the USC Spring Opening Convocation that morning). Naturally, I reflected back upon my own experience of being “dropped off” as a new college student. I think I would have loved an environment like USC and would now appreciate the academics more. I left campus without shedding one visible tear, boarded the plane and headed home-almost pridefully saying to myself en route home and into the evening: “Well, that certainly was easy”. Until ….it wasn’t…. (For me!)
Later that evening, I couldn’t resist the urge to pick up my phone and text him. I was just too curious about how the rest of the day went for him. The text exchange continued. Pleasantries were exchanged and then I wrote this: “I hope you feel your transition to this new life and experience went more smoothly than your First day of kindergarten, which looking back I feel horrible about! There was a lot going on with me then, as is the case now.” As I texted the words, the remembrance of his First day of kindergarten came back to me as if it was yesterday, and then the Floodgate of tears and emotions came. I must admit, his first day of kindergarten was memorable!!! It went nothing like one would hope for in an idyllic “launch”. I have managed to concoct a comic story out of it. In a way, it was a situation where nearly everything that could go wrong, went wrong. He got on the afternoon school bus with tears in his eyes but not because he was sad to leave me. Rather, because I had gotten mad at him (and yelled at him) for leaving our house without telling me. He had charged up the hill with the brand new neighbors (both the Mom and Dad with their second child who was also starting kindergarten) as he was anxiously trying to get to the bus stop. As ever “The Pied Piper” (one time when he threatened to run away my other two kids said they were going to go with him-yikes, I’m not sounding like a very good Mom, am I?) my other two children blindly followed him (ages 4 and 2 respectively- the 4 year old brother shirtless at that) leaving me alone in the house. Upon realization that I was alone in the house and bus stop time was quickly approaching, I panicked. After screaming for their whereabouts throughout the house, I marched up the hill myself in a “crazed” state, 5 months pregnant with the 4th child, electric rollers in my hair trying to pack for a spousal corporate trip I was leaving on only hours later. Somehow the communication got mixed up as my Mom was supposed to come over to help while I got my son off to school. I imagine I was a true “sight to behold”! My new neighbor politely asked if I wanted her to take a picture of me and him. I think I shot her an icy glare? Ok, I’m almost positive I shot her an icy glare. All right, it’s true, I most DEFINITELY shot her an icy glare. (That said, we became friends and have often recalled/been able to laugh about that day when both of our sons simultaneously went off to kindergarten that afternoon in the Fall of 20o1. Oh and by the way, my Former neighbor DID ask my kids to go tell me their whereabouts that day, they just elected not to tell me). Here are a few of the pics:
BEFORE THE BUS PICK UP. SEE ABOVE
I apologized again to my son about the First day of kindergarten and have tried to communicate that especially with the First borns, I believe some of parenthood is experimental. I do believe the “first borns” have burdens to bear that those of us “later borns” never have. I Further tried to communicate that despite our age and wish to be perceived as Full of innate and learned wisdom, some of us (For sure me) are just doing the best we know how! It’s Funny how my perspective about my parents has changed over the course of a lifetime…But that’s another entire blog post!
I know my parenting is and never will be entirely over but a new exciting chapter/version is emerging! I’m hopeful we will all keep Fighting On!!!
*** Permission obtained from son and Former neighbor to post!
If anyone has any similar kindergarten through college “drop off” experiences they’d like to share, I’d LOVE to hear them!!!