The alarm went off at 5:15 a.m. Today was the day. It was five days ago when we all got up to shower, eat breakfast and do a little last-minute car packing. We piled into the cars at 6:30 in the morning. All six of us. In anticipation for the day ahead. The day we were moving our first-born into his dorm at East Carolina University.
I didn’t sleep well the night before. Anticipation? Sadness? Concern? Did I get him everything he needs? Did I pack that? Is he happy? When will he come home the first time? Tons of thoughts swirling though my head. Keep in mind, I am a great sleeper, but from time-to-time, I am just awake. For no reason at all. Well, I think my first-born leaving home is a pretty good reason for not being able to sleep that night. Ha!
The drive is just under two hours. He drove with me. His younger brother falling asleep in the backseat. Head bobbing. Hair flipping around. He finally lays down since he has the whole backseat to himself. Alex is with me in the front. We are chatting, listening to My Favorite Murder Podcast. He announces that he is going to sleep a little too. I smile and drive into the sunrise. Checking out my surroundings, listening to the podcast. Looking at Pierce in the backseat sleeping, then looking over at Alex. He is crashed out, mouth wide open, obviously napping wonderfully. I snap a photo of me smiling and him sleeping with his mouth wide open. I can’t help myself. I want to cherish every moment.
We arrive to the huge parking lot at the stadium and get our place in line. Talking, joking and me taking photos. Waiting to get inside and get his keys.
After the stadium and picking up his keys, we drove over and arrived at his dorm. The six of us got all of his things up to his dorm and the organization started. As a mother, I want my children to always be comfortable. To have all that they need. From the 3-inch mattress pad, to the rug on the floor. I’m hoping I got him everything that he will need for the whole year, but not too much to clutter and sit in the same spot all year and not get used. It’s all I can hope for.
Once I have him set up and I am finished with my part. You know, the part that makes us moms feel good. It was kind of like nesting for our babies again. Setting up their room, making sure they have everything to get by. All organized and ready to go. Once you are done you stop and look around. Ask yourself, am I missing anything? Will he be comfortable? Does this make him happy? I look around and it hasn’t hit me yet that this is his room now. He won’t be sleeping at home any more. Nope, it hadn’t hit me yet at all. Not like I thought it would for the months leading up to this.
My Husband and our youngest three Boys said our goodbyes with hugs and see-you-tonights. We walked back to our cars and I was still fine. No tears, no anticipation. No concern.
We had lunch, checked in to our hotel and relaxed for a bit.
Later that evening, our youngest, my Husband and I went out for beers and a soda. We chatted, the three of us. After a bit, we met up with another set of parents that I met during orientation in the library a couple of months prior. They dropped off their son that day as well. After a little conversation, we learned that we were all feeling the same. Even my youngest. We are proud, but will miss them. We are concerned, but they will succeed. We are nervous, but know that they will be able to handle themselves. So many emotions flying around that table. We laughed and had serious moments too. It was wonderful to share with other parents that were going through the same thing.
The three of us got back to Alex’s dorm to meet his roommate and his parents. They were so nice and we met his roommates older brother as well, that lives off campus and is an ECU junior.
I think we felt a little relief. Well, at least I did, knowing that his roommate was a nice kid. Happy and smiling. They seemed to be communicating well. At ease with each other. Their room set up comfortably. The whole atmosphere just seemed calm. Thank goodness! Ha!
The three of us, once again, said our goodbyes to let Alex hang out with his new roommate, head to dinner and finish organizing his desk. Tons more hugs and I love you’s were had, of course. Then we were on our way back to our hotel.
Still no tears. No trepidation.
The next morning we had a date to meet Alex around 9 for breakfast. We gathered our things from the hotel and started to make our way. The 6 of us. For the last meal that we would share together until I don’t know when.
We found a couple of parking spots on the street and headed over to his dorm. He was ready and waiting. Roommate still asleep, so we met outside. We made our way to Einsteins on campus for bagels and some time together.
It was a great breakfast. Everyone at ease. Having great conversations. Laughing, poking fun and enjoying our time. We made it last for as long as we could, then it was time to head back to his dorm.
Once back to Alex’s dorm we hung out a bit. Introduced his middle brothers to his roommate and chatted a little while. It wasn’t until I asked the roommate to take a photo of us all that it hit me. “This is it! Hold it together!” The thoughts going through my head. Taking deep slow breathes.
Photos were taken, then hugs started to happen. I started to lose is. Slowly and quietly. Once that happens, everyone seems to know… here goes Mom. She is going to start to cry. I have to say I have the sweetest family ever though.
We said our goodbyes with a ton for hugs and I love you’s. I just feel like it is never enough, Then we walked out of his room and down the back stairs to the outside. I put my sunglasses on even before we left the room. The tears were already welling up. Streaming down my cheeks as we descended the stairs. Already hearing the, “Mom are you okay,” questions from one of my boys. Which one, I can’t remember. Then walking out into the heat and sunlight through the parking lot and my second oldest put his arm around me as we walked to the street. I remember feeling the comfort of his arm around me and thinking how lucky I am. After crossing the street, grabbing my husband’s hand and holding on, for what felt like dear life. The tears still flowing. Trying not to sniffle and silently wiping my tears. Getting to my car and my husband and I crying in each others arms. Feeling so proud of our wonderful first-born. Feeling so sad for us. Like something so dear has been taken away. Crying and holding on tight. My husband let go and kissed me, then started down the street after our two middle boys to his car. My youngest son took his place and he and I cried together. Holding each other tight on that sidewalk. I know he was feeling the same. At loss already. Crying into each others arms quietly. Reassuring each other with sweet words that we will be okay. That HE will be okay. That we will come and see him soon and hope that he will want to come home and see us too.
It isn’t just hard on the parents it is hard on the other kids in the family too. Even though the older ones don’t show it, a mother knows. I could see it as we all walked away from his dorm that day. Every one of us quiet. Every one of us somber with our heads down. Not our usual silly selves. It’s hard on us as a family. I’m sure Alex felt it too. I hope one day he will fill us in on how he was feeling that day we left him for his new adventure.
As we drove out-of-town, I cried. My youngest held my hand. I held his. We were full of tears together. Then we smiled at each other with those reassuring smiles. Trying to just get though our feelings of the moment. Of the morning that we had just had.
It’s been 5 days since we moved him in last Wednesday. Those feelings haven’t gone away. Our first-born started his first two classes at college this morning. I am crying steadily and having to take breaks while typing this. Blowing my nose. Wiping my tears. Hoping that I don’t get a sinus infection. Hahaha! Feeling so excited for Alex. Hoping his ‘first day of classes’ were amazing and that his teachers aren’t assholes. Hoping that he got smiled at and that someone new introduced themselves. That he made a new friend and shook his teachers hand. My emotions and thoughts are all positive ones of accomplishment for my son and ease to get though the day.
I feel so lucky that I got a text this morning from him saying, “Morning”. To quietly let me know in his own way and he is up and ready for his day. That meant the world to me, more than he will probably ever know.
It is so odd to have to raise a child and then let them go, so to speak. I don’t want to let them go. I always will want them in my day-to-day life one way or another. A phone call, a hug, a text, lunch, a walk, to FaceTime, a letter in the mail, anything. I’ll take anything I can get. My children are my world. Why would I want that to end when they turn 18? I don’t and if it’s up to me, I won’t let that happen. I will always love them, nurture them, advise them, reassure them, let them know that they are loved and supported. Even as adults
My children are not my best friends, they are the loves of my life, my little boys, my children. Now and forever. That will never change. I feel lucky to have them in my life. I feel excited and happy when I see them each day. I am not a parent that looks forward to having an “empty nest”. Not because I don’t want them to succeed and have amazing adult lives, but because I feel like they will always have our home. The home we all have when we were together. Something to look forward to, coming home to when every they want. Home is where you are loved. Home is where your family is. Home is your anchor.
To all of you parents and siblings out there sending your loved-one off to college. I send you love and hugs. You are not alone. And to all of you off to college… YOU, are not alone. 🙂