People always tell parents that they blink and the next thing they know, their kids are being dropped off at their college dorm or moving out or getting married and they are having their own kids. It’s weird to think that 18 years, nearly 2 decades, is such a short period of time. You don’t even know what happened. One minute, your child is walking around a KMart, with his pants at his ankles because nothing ever fit him right saying “Mommy, pants fall” and the next, you’re making his bed at college and taking all of the pictures you can within reason. Did they really grow up enough to be tossed into essentially total independence? Did we do enough to prepare him? I guess time will tell.
We’re so happy that we’re able to give him this experience. We’re happy that his hard work paid off. He’s had a goal in mind since he was little and worked so hard even at such a young age with the goal of going into college and working for the FBI. He’s spent his entire school career working towards this goal and he got into his first choice college. We’re so proud of him. But moving across state may as well be across the country. Though, I’m convinced even if he did go to a closer school, including my own excellent college within our city, him living there would be too far away. You’re really not as prepared as you want to be when the day comes.
It’s a nice campus. It’s bigger in person than we thought. Due to COVID, we didn’t really get to tour the campus ourselves to check it out, so it was a bit overwhelming. We took ourselves on our own little tour, hoping that when the first day of school starts next week, he won’t be as overwhelmed going to class. His dorm is within only a few minutes walk of a small beach and marsh hiking path. There’s this nice running/walking/biking path in the area, which I teased him for not knowing how to ride a bike. He rolled his eyes at me and mumbled, “I know how to ride a bike” and I responded with, “Last I saw, not very well.” He was always much better with his skateboard or scooter than his bike.
It was hard. My husband had his teary-eyed moment when he started packing up our son’s desktop, because he intends to continue his streaming while at college. He later laughed about it saying that he saw more dads crying at the move-in day than the moms. I said it was because we had to be strong for everyone else and we’d have our meltdowns later when we were alone at some random point of time because we folded a towel wrong or something. Admittedly, despite feeling the tears form in the back of my eyes and throat, I haven’t had that moment yet. Maybe after my youngest goes to school, we’ll see if coming back to the lonely house hits me.
It’s already hard. The first night, it was hard because after our youngest went to bed, we would watch shows or movies that weren’t appropriate for the youngest. We’d connect over these shows, talk about random things inspired by the shows. We’d sometimes group up for Overwatch and complain about how bad the other players were. He streamed with the new shiny webcam that our nephew/his best friend got him as a going away present. We watched, like the weird, stalker-y parents that we were, marveling about the great job we did while also being sad about doing a great job and having him so far away. My husband kept reiterating the point of “if you hate it here, there are plenty of closer schools.” My husband also kept switching between “I hope he loves it there” and “Is it bad I hope he hates it there and comes home?” It’s funny to watch the struggle between wanting your child to succeed at their dreams, but the selfishness of us wanting to keep them our small babies forever.
It hurt a little getting off the Pike back home and hearing a song come on that he would normally sing very loudly to in the backseat. We pulled up to the house to drop off our nephew so he could get his car out of the driveway before we picked up our youngest from my parents. As we pulled up, he still had his “Class of 2021” sign in our yard. It’s been hard to consider taking it down. It was even harder pulling up to see it.
The next morning was also hard. Normally our oldest son, despite having his own room and a very nice, comfortable mattress, falls asleep on the couch. He’s usually too tired from playing video games or streaming that he just goes to bed where his computer is. But he likes having his computer out in the living room because he’s a weird kid who loves hanging out with his parents. I woke up early, as I often do on Mondays to get my husband’s lunch and coffee ready before he goes to his early morning meeting. Normally, I walk into the living room and I have to be quiet as a go in to work and get my husband’s stuff ready. I tiptoed in, only to remember that he wasn’t there. He wasn’t sprawled out on the couch, with his favorite blanket that I got him when we first bought this house 7 years ago. I didn’t have to go over and fix his blanket, even though it’s hot, just because he likes the comfort of it. It was just an empty couch except for our lab/pointer mix Arya, who was laying in our son’s “spot”. She looked at me with sad eyes. “Yes, Arya. Me too.”
I saw the recycling that was still full and normally I would wake our son up to take care of it for me. But he’s not there. Still, I walked around as silently as possible out of habit or even hope that maybe it would trick my brain into thinking he was still here. He’s not. He’s not going to be here to watch our trashy TLC reality shows that we love to watch together. He’s not going to be there sharing the memes from Reddit about the show after watching it together. He’s not going to be there to laugh when I say “kimchi bitches” and imitating the scene from “Nora from Queens”. I’m not going to wake up to hear him in the kitchen and smell the kimchi that he’s eating with chopsticks straight from the fridge at 3 in the morning. Or smell the extra hot yakisoba noodles that he likes to cook up. Or see him walk into the living room with his kimchi ramen, spoon, and chopsticks and watch him quickly take chopstick bites in between Valorant rounds. Or wonder why he has the spoon because he just slurps the broth after the noodles are gone anyways, like normal kids would drink the milk after their bowl of cereal.
It’s the little things that you miss, like the arguing between the siblings or yelling about tossing the clothes next to the hamper, not in the hamper. Or the spilling the kimchi broth as I gag trying to clean it up because I just cannot get over how nauseating it is to me. It’s only been a few days and it’s so hard to overlook that there may be a part of you missing.
It’s for the best. He’s going to be great. He’s going to do great things in the world. I believe that. He’s destined to be the change that he wants to see in the world and he’s determined and smart enough to do it.