Taking your kid to college sucks. That's the big secret no one tells, because you wouldn't believe them. But I sure wish I was warned.
Friends with children who already flew the coop did not aptly prepare me for the extreme pain and heartache that accompanied taking kid #1 to college. There’s a pact of secrecy amongst those that have already unloaded boxes into dorms to not tell us newbies how hard it is.
Sure, seasoned parents called and hugged and commiserated once we returned from the drop off. But only afterwards, because if they warn us beforehand, dorms would surely be empty. It’s a loss only a parent can feel, and differs greatly family to family, but for this family, for these parents, it’s been heartbreaking.
Fair warning: this is hard.
This is how it’s supposed to be: they grow up, go to college, start their own stories. I keep repeating a mantra, ‘she’s not dead,’ to make it easier. Sick, yes, I know.
We know how lucky we are: #1’s life is exactly as any family would hope, but even so, pain is apparently part of the parent-package but that tidbit didn’t come with my childrearing instructions. Unbearably emotional, the onslaught of loss occurs with little or no warning. There were moments this past year when we couldn’t believe she was leaving, but many, many more when we were counting the days to get her out of the house.
Teenage Girls are Horrid, Make No Mistake About It
I’m not trying to reinvent history and sugar coat raising ‘tween and teenage girls – they’re miserable, vicious, horrid humans and anyone who has one knows it. Living with a teenage, hormonal know-it-all daughter is no picnic. (And we have three!) But still, their absence is deafening, and the void is so very deep throughout the family. You’ll miss her – you will. I do.
Her room sits empty and the sibs gravitate towards it to read, sleep, text and hang out, while her dad and I avoid it at all costs. The dog carries around her shoes. Her dad and I have yet to talk about it, and cling to the other kids with suffocating, impossible hugs, long good night talks, and mandatory family time.
From here on out, it’s always going to be just one long good-bye, not just to the beautiful woman we dropped off at the dorm, but also to the little girl who wanted so badly to someday become a tight-rope walker.
But the empty thumbtack holes on her walls pierce my heart. And the sob in her brother’s voice when he discovered he only needed 5 glasses for dinner is a permanent reminder that eventually, if all goes well, we’ll always need one less.