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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Another Step

My husband and I went up to see our college sophomore recently.  Her school is less than two hours away, and with a year’s experience under our belts, as well as a train station on campus with regular service to Boston, we've relaxed a bit, knowing we can get to her, or she to us, should it become necessary.  In her second year, she's familiar with the routine, has a bunch of friends in her major, and is beginning to look forward to internships for next year. In short, she’s growing and maturing.

As am I.

Her sophomore year in college is our sophomore year as empty-nesters.  I confess, a year ago August, after we dropped her off and drove home, I locked myself in the bathroom and cried. Since the great layoff of 2009, I’d embraced two things: writing, and the time I could spend with our growing girl.  I was so grateful for our school afternoons together, coffee dates, breakfast dates, shopping excursions and trips to the movies, because I’d never had them, and I knew they would be short lived.   In the late summer of 2011, the last of the sand trickled through the hour glass on that marvelous opportunity, and she was gone.  For a few hours, I walked around like a shell of myself, bereft.  Then my husband took me out to dinner, and we talked . . . all night.  And I remembered, before there were three, there were two.  We’d had nine years of married life and friendship before our daughter arrived.  Nineteen years later, we still make a good team.

So this summer, while I admit to getting a little antsy when it was time for our girl to pack up again, I knew I’d survive when she left, because I’d done it before.  Still, for the first week she was gone, I stomped around, pausing for long moments at the open door of her room, to stare at the pink shag rug, the photo collage she left behind, posters she hung in high school.  A year ago, when she left, it felt like she’d gone to an extended summer camp, that she’d return and we’d get back to our routine.  Now it’s her second year and I get it. Even though she’ll be back for vacations, perhaps a summer or two, maybe even for a period after she graduates, she’ll never really live here again.  She’s developing her own personality, learning independence and sculpting her own future.  When she comes home, she’ll have her own schedule, her own agenda and her own priorities.

As it pertains to motherhood, I've had a pretty good grasp always, of the fleeting nature of things.  Back in 2006, I wrote: “Every stage…seems like it will last forever.  Then one day you turn around and forever has ended.”

Six years later, I'll edit that sentence.  Forever doesn't end, it just morphs into something different we adjust to while our girl moves on, doing what she's supposed to, developing her new life. 

As she does that, hard as it is sometimes, I remind myself it's time to focus inward, so I can continue developing my own.

(For MES.)


Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

You're breaking my heart. This is my first year of my daughter away at college. She's also at Boston, 8 hours for us. It's been pretty rough for me.

Bish Denham said...

It's isn't us who grow older, it's the kids. I can remember the day my mother had this revelation, "Oh my god, I have middle-aged daughters!" :)

Carol Kilgore said...

I really enjoyed this. You have a healthy outlook :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

She's growing up, mom. And so are you.

Sue said...

A beautiful post Liza. I love the photo of the two of you together looking so happy - and the sentence "Every stage ... seems like it will last forever. Then one day you turn around and forever has ended." It morphs, but it feels like it's ended.

My daughter chose a university an hour and a half drive and a two hour flight away. She's now in her fifth year away, still studying. Our visits are as precious as ever and we make the most of every moment. Sitting in bed together having a cup of tea, crying over love lost and study frustrations. We love shopping together and choosing restaurants.

I've accepted she's grown up and is her own woman who'll make her own "mistakes" and I'm immensely proud of the path she's chosen - challenging, tough and often exhausting.

What a roller-coaster ride motherhood is...and I wouldn't have missed it for quids!
Does that translate? I'm sure you understand what I mean ;-)

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Well put. Even after our kids grow up and have children of their own, they're still our kids... and we're still their mom. Different phases of life, but they're all good.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

What a wonderful thing that the ugly layoff opened a door to beautiful time spent with your daughter. Life is unpredictable, but you've nailed what is important in this post. Here's to all of us developing, growing, learning always.

'Yellow Rose' Jasmine said...

I like the way you're dealing with this. It's healthy and enriching for you AND your daughter.
There are always things to adjust to and it says a lot about you in the way that you have managed to adjust to this. Learning about ourselves is part of the gift that we get back from everything life throws at us.

Anonymous said...

Love you mom. It's always gonna be the three of us, you can't get rid of me that fast :)

Robyn Campbell said...

You're growing up together, Liza! You're handling it in a very healthy way. I am thinking of you. :-)

J.B. Chicoine said...

Life is such a series of transitions and adjustments--or perhaps just a never-ending cycle of them. I guess we're both going through our own peculiar yet universal changes! :)

...and I just love that picture of the two of you...

Anne Gallagher said...

What a sweet picture. It's so funny that friends my age are saying good-bye to their daughters at college and I'm just getting mine settled into second grade. I feel like I'm caught in some weird time warp. I look 50, feel 100, but act like I'm 20. Hopefully, the Monster won't mind when I live with her during my retirement. LOL.

nutschell said...

It must be hard to be away from your kids for so long. from your smiles though, it looks like a wonderful reunion!