School just started for my son this week. He's a senior in high school, which means (ominous drum roll) he'll be going away to college next year. I've known this was coming ever since all 8 pounds, 5 ½ ounces of him arrived one chilly November afternoon 17 years ago. But it always seemed so far away. He'd be a kid forever, right? That's how I'd always known him, so that's how he'd have to stay.
Now the reality is starting to sink in. At this time next year, he'll be away living in a dorm, and my house will be empty. Well, maybe not exactly empty. I'll still be here, and my husband, and the cats, but that'll be it. There won't be any teenagers wandering in and out at odd hours. There won't be the sound of an electric guitar drifting from my son's room when I'm trying to watch a movie. Chances are no one's cell phone will ring during dinner. Boy, won't that be weird? No, I'm not ready.
My husband and I are bringing this heartbreak on ourselves. Since he was little, we've extolled the virtues of going away to college. From the time he was in kindergarten, our son has known that college would be the best 4 or 5 or 10 years (hello grad school!) of his life. Now I feel like we were practically pushing him out the door. We've even taken him on over a half dozen college visits in the past year. What were we thinking? Now he's downright excited about going away!
Gradually, during his years of middle school and junior high and high school, he's been home less and less. I guess that's nature's way of preparing me for what's to come next fall. As he's grown, he's become an autonomous person, instead of an extension of me or my husband. He relies less on me for…well, for everything. He makes his own social plans, drives himself wherever he's going, and has a job so he'll have money for guitar strings and other necessities. On the one hand, I'm gratified that he's growing into a competent, independent individual. On the other hand, how could I have let this happen?
So, next fall, I'll be that embarrassing, weepy mom (one of many, no doubt) when I drop him off at college. I'll go through boxes of tissues as I'm driving home without him in the car complaining about my choice of music. I'll entice him to come home for weekends with promises of home-baked cookies and Mom's laundry service. But until then, I've still got one more year of high school to get through. One more year when he has to come home at night, and I have an excuse to keep tabs on his whereabouts. And you better believe I'm going to enjoy every last second of it!
I hope you have a very happy, safe, and successful school year, whether you're a student, a parent, a teacher, or just someone who's happy you don't have to remember the quadratic equation anymore.