empty nest…college, the first stage

empty nest

This morning before dawn broke, we became first stage empty nesters as my husband left to drive our son to school. The car was so packed, there wasn’t room for anyone to change their mind, let alone room for me.

It seems like yesterday he was 10 and we were meeting for the first time at a First Friday Main Line long, long ago. I bought him a hot chocolate at MilkBoy Coffee when it was in Ardmore, and I was smitten.

We are a blended family, and I was never able to have children of my own, so my stepson is it for me. I like to say in some ways, we have grown up together, and now I get to begin that parental process of learning to let go and watching him spread his wings and learn to fly as the transition from teenager to adult really begins.

Damn this is hard. This morning as I stood in the rain in the doorway watching the rear lights of the car get smaller and smaller, I was a kaleidoscope of memories and emotions.  All of the years so far twirled and swirled before me in my mind’s eye.

Yes I cried when I hugged him good-bye.  I swore for days before that I wouldn’t. But I did.  And I had a good cry when they were gone when I walked past his open bedroom door.  The room was still and quiet.  And he had made his bed for me.  Yup. Puddle. Tears. This adulting stuff, oy vey.

We are so proud of him.  He did extraordinarily well in high school and has a very bright future ahead of him.  This is part of the natural progression of life, but damn don’t try it without Kleenex.

Another thing that gave me pause today is that I was experiencing something today like a regular parent, not just as a step-parent.  This new journey beginning today is something he, his father, and I share together like the family we have become.

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As today is the check-in and freshman orientation for college, I call it the first stage of becoming an empty nester.  He will be home for break and vacations and occasional weekends, but he will never truly be here full time 100% of the time ever again.

He’s growing up (and yes he has been doing the growing up thing for a while – don’t mind me I am just enjoying parental denial.)  And some day, he will be having a day like this with his own children.

I am not old enough I said to myself this morning. I remember when I left for college.  I was excited and terrified all at the same time.  Now it’s his turn.

So what did I do this morning after I had my parental meltdown because the kid left for college? Well I cleaned and rearranged my spice rack. I oiled the cabinets and some pieces of furniture. It’s like I have an unnatural need to stay busy today.

Now I am sitting here writing this and listening to really early Madonna.  I never listen to Madonna.  Or I should say, I haven’t since I was about 21.  Holiday. Borderline. Material Girl. Lucky Star.

An hour or so ago I got a photo of the dorm room. That takes me back.  I remember that. Unpacking. Arranging my room.  But time flies.  37 years ago I was a just 17 year old freshman.  Seems inconceivable. I had a bright green bedspread.  My mother insisted.  I did not do that to him.

Now it’s his turn. He seems to like his roommate and survived his first freshman orientation gathering.  I remember I liked some of the freshman orientation activities, and felt like an alien at some of the others.

I have a feeling I will be cooking and gardening like crazy for just a little while.

I just got a text.  A photo of his first student i.d. He looks older already….sigh…

Have a great Sunday everyone.  Thanks for stopping by.

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3 thoughts on “empty nest…college, the first stage

  1. My grandson left today for college. His final year. He stopped by with his mom this a.m. and I saw he had shaved off his mustache and beard. He has grown up and that stage is now behind him.
    He left with containers full of left overs from a card party we had last night. 4 hungry guys in an apt will make a quick disappearance of it along with my apple crisp. Memories? Yes, they haunt our
    minds with how quick they grow up, but that makes life so much richer and fuller. Bless them all on a safe and fruitful journey.

  2. You will survive but it is gut wrenching, The ride home after drop off felt like our world was ending. i almost got a puppy. But waited it out….it does get better–stay busy!!

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