Sunday, August 25, 2019

No more need for a children's menu? I am here.

We were waiting to be seated in the iconic Tex-Mex restaurant. After waking before 4am, traveling across country, and making a couple of apartment-supply runs, Mason and I were each in our own exhausted day-dreams -- mine completely centered on the soon to be ingested chips and queso. But it had not gone completely unnoticed by me that there were many families in the lobby who were obviously dropping their own students at Texas Tech (the cameras, the selfies, the staring lovingly at the young adult....I recognized the signs!). When the hostess motioned it was time to be seated for one such family, I heard her ask the mom if their were any children in the party. And there it was. Mom glanced lovingly at her taller-than-her-son and took a deep sigh before saying, "No. No children."

I wanted to hug her.

And assure her that queso does in fact make it feel better....but perhaps I could offer a little more advice than that.

As mothers, we all handle the college-going of our children differently. Freshman year and dorm decorating can uncover a range of emotions, my friends and I pretty much covered the gamut:

1. I'm proud. I'm proud. I'm just so proud.  This mom really just loves celebrating every single achievement for darling college kid. Perhaps the sadness for her is overwhelmed by her pride....or maybe she finds it easier to cover her sadness when she is fully immersed in college pride! Regardless, she will be at every event on the campus and will be thrilled to be there!

2. Party. Party. Party. This mom is relishing her nest being empty. She is a good mom but she has an enviable contentment hanging with her own peeps, and finding fulfillment beyond her motherhood.

3. Eeyore and Pooh Bear too. Woe is me, my purpose is gone. I just want to sit and eat honey -- or queso in my case -- all day. There is no denying that after homeschooling the triplets for six years, spending every moment of those years engaging them in learning, I struggled with the freshman year. I felt bereft, if you don't mind my drama. I felt that I was void of purpose. And I had a physical ache that all things had changed.

Please hear me, I think most of us can be a little of all three, even if overwhelmingly leaning toward one. I was crazy proud of my crew and I love opening our home to other adults to gather with me -- from Bible studies to book clubs and everything in the middle -- but I was full-on Eeyore when my crew left for college. Freshman year found me stalking the social media accounts of each of their schools for a glimpse, a tiny glimpse of their faces. I wasn't completely sure how often I should text them. I didn't want to call them too often. I wanted to be laid back in the communication....but oh boy I wanted to know how and where and when and what. I needed all the info and felt so absolutely disconnected because I was not a part of the process.

Listen, as mothers, we have to support each other -- no matter what our attitude towards their college-going. 

Last week, Mason and I flew across country to move him into his graduate school apartment. We are in the throes of Claire's application process for Occupational therapy school and Benjamin is exploring all his options for his next endeavors.

Photo cred: Sarah Dunlap photography

And while I am sad that we won't all be here together every day, it doesn't feel as take-my-breath-away as the trio leaving for college did. This feels different.

Four years after freshman year drop-off, I have learned a few things:

1. They still seek me out for advice and to share their news. Somehow, I think we worry as moms -- or I worried -- that they wouldn't do that once they found their people. It is a comfort to know they do.

2. They can handle themselves. I think regardless of how amazing our children are, there is a fear when we leave them in their college dorm, that we forgot some big crucial life-skill that they will need and not know. That wasn't the case for my kids -- and I am fairly certain it won't be for yours as well. (Unless you consider sock-picking-up a major life skill, because I fear one or more of my children might not possess that one....)

3. When we let them fly, they soar. This is so hard. So hard. I had days where I wanted to clip their wings and bring them back to the nest. But my crew have found purpose, adventure, and relationships near and far as they follow their dreams. It is good.

Parenting adults is very different than when I had three little bitties following my every step, my every move. I am not the center of their world anymore and that can be a blow to a mommy-heart. But they are still some of my very favorite people. I love hearing them talk about their passions, their work, their dreams. I love meeting their friends and seeing the relationships blossom. And I love knowing that they will come home....and I will be here, whenever they need me!

I'm learning.

Carol - The Blessings Counter