Letting go of the small hand of your four year old as she walks into preschool tugs at the heart. It’s just the beginning of many more first days and first steps until your child moves out of your home to make their own way in a sometimes scary world-wIthout you. This is parenting.
During August and September millions of parents felt the pull on their heart while they watched their child go out on their own, for a few hours or a few years. Such is the time that I am in, with not one but two young adult kids. Last month my son (MS) left out of state for college and tomorrow my daughter (MD) leaves to join him. We’re taking an 18 hour two day road trip, pulling a U-Haul, with their belongings and MS’s cat, Kiki.
For two weeks, we’ve been in a flurry of cardboard boxes, labels, garage sales, and finding a home for my daughter’s pet, Pika, a chinchilla. An adorable pet that looks like a stuffed animal.
MD has lived in her room for 16 years, with her collection of Blink 182 posters, Kat Von D, Stanley Kubrick, James Dean and Marilyn Monroe posters on three different colored walls and her ceiling. Her collection of cassette tapes, 45’s, and LP’s fill crates. Photos from her childhood, of her friends, family, and pets are lovingly tucked away. She packed eight large boxes and several ‘space’ vacuum bags. MS took his backpack, skateboard and two suitcases. He left his bed, desk and cat.
There is a melancholy about all this activity, these changes in the last three months. My mother has four grandchildren and three great grandchildren who moved and are moving away. My brother’s oldest daughter moved away with his only grandchild, and my sister moved back to our hometown, her adult children and grandkids hours away. All of us are experiencing loss and transition. This is part of parenting too.
Packing moving boxes is an experience in family history. MD’s 15 year old Minnie Mouse pillow, Snow White sheets, and her 10 year old heart quilt all go into the box. Every time we put a photo into the treasure box, I feel that photograph and remember details of MD’s or MS’s life when they were in that snapshot of time. I remember when they called me “mommy,” then “mom,” and “mahooom.” (I had to pause for some sniffles).
We have a ritual. When MS’s or MD walk in the front door they shout, “I’m home,” and whoever is home shouts out “I’m in the bedroom,” or wherever they might be at the moment. I’ll miss those shouts from MS and MD.
We have coffee every morning, usually I make the pot, but sometimes MS or MD would make it and we’d all grab our favorite cups. MS invariably grabbed the closest cup, and the bickering began when it was one of MD’s special collection Star Wars or cat cup. I’ll miss that too. The mystery of “who ate the last granola bar, muffin, toast….I was saving it,” will now be solved because it’s down to three choices: me, my other son, or our dog.
For the longest time, I’ve been a single parent. My home filled with a flurry of two sons, my daughter, a dog, cat, and chinchilla, their friends, and their cousins. Each school year, birthday, graduation, and job took them closer and closer to building their own life. So close now that the boxes are taped shut, labeled, and moved into the living room for the U-Haul that we pick up in a couple of hours. So close that I want to hold on to my children’s hands tighter, at least for a few more seconds before they are off in their own apartment, in another state, 18 hours away, on their own adventure, with their own life to live.