Leaving my son at school was harder than I ever thought. Horrible is the word that comes to mind. I cried all the way down to the campus. I tried not to let Johnny see me cry but James and my husband were trying so hard to make me feel better that i might as well have been sitting next to him asking for tissues. I composed myself by the time we parked in front of his dorm. We unloaded with LOTS of help from the upper classmen who toted all our stuff to his room on the second floor. We met his roommate Amen pronounced Ay-men but not like church Amen. He is from Kuwait and his Uncle traveled with him to move in. He was sort of quiet but very nice. He’s very smart and seems like a good roommate for Johnny. We got John unloaded and headed to the bookstore to get his books and some token souvenir T-Shirts that I’ll sport around today like some wounded child. We picked up John’s laptop and toted it back to his room for Rob to set it up for him. By then it was after 1:00 and we were hungry so we sort of asked / suggested that John treat us to lunch with some of his family swipes that we bought with his meal plan. We took the tour to the eatery so James could get a look at the campus since he hadn’t been there. The food court was great since once you swipe, you could stay all day and keep eating. James was a big fan of that! We sat in a side corner booth and watched the new students get a feel for the school and making their presence known amongst the masses. It was a sea of hormones. My son was like a slab of prime rib to a bunch of starving dogs. Everywhere we walked I could feel the stares that were less than subtle. What can I say, he is a very handsome man. I don’t think he’ll be suffering for a date should he need one. Once lunch was done we were making our way back to drop John off at his dorm and leave and then he said the most awful thing he could have at that moment to me. “I’ll walk you to your car”. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? NO! you will NOT walk me to the car. This may sound weird but the only thing worse than leaving my son would be to see him walking away from me. Maybe I’m strange but I’d rather walk away on my terms than sit in the car watching him walk away from me. I couldn’t handle it so I just said no. He didn’t argue and hugged his brother goodbye…. ok hang on there you’re doing fine DON’T CRY! He hugged his Dad goodbye….oh shit my turn is next ….DON’T LOSE IT NOW YOU BIG BABY JUST ANOTHER MINUTE THEN IT WILL BE OVER! Then it was my turn and all the prophetic wonderful words of wisdom & mom things I was prepared to bestow upon him were lost the minute he said goodbye mama and hugged me. I began to lose it so I said I love you, I kissed him on the cheek and then as fast as I could without running I turned on my heel and booked it for the car. I could hear James with his 36″ legs striding to catch up with me. DON’T STOP! DON’T LOOK BACK or you will become the spectacle mom. BREATHE! Just keep walking I kept telling myself with the ragged fast breathing I was doing trying to prevent a massive break down that would probably end up in semester long ribbing if anyone had seen what was about to happen. Thank god the car was not too far away. I got in and that’s when the sadness fell heavy on my head. My poor son James and poor Rob didn’t know what to do with me as I openly and quietly panicked and wept all the way home. They tried to make jokes and smile and rubbed my shoulders and hand. I was just so sad for the rest of the day I laid on the couch watching movies and doing nothing. I couldn’t even touch base with my friends Sharon and Steve who had to do this twice in one weekend for two of their triplets. OMG twice! I didn’t even do one well and was so selfish to wallow in my emptiness that I didn’t reach out to either of them. I should have but sometimes you have to be selfish in order to heal. It’s the second time in my life that I have shut the world out in order to fix myself and it only happens in time of personal crisis. I’m sorry my friend but I know you both understand and I love you for it!
I now have this big empty hole in my chest and it aches even one day later. It’s not like he’s far away or in danger or without a phone. It’s that he’s not here and that makes me so sad. Even writing this brought me right back to those moments after I left. It will get better I know it will but it will never ever again be the same. I was prepared to give him lots of space, not text, not call and skype or facetime for several weeks. I was told that was what we needed to do to let him get adjusted to his new life. I wasn’t going to like it but I was prepared to do it for him. I don’t want to be THAT mom. So I went for a 5 mile run today to clear my head and come back to center in my new life without my daily fix of having Johnny here to talk to. Without driving him to work or loaning him the truck. No more iced coffee’s and other daily routines that are now just different. Not bad, different. I still have 2 home and one in H.S. so I won’t be bored and won’t have much time to be sad but part of me will miss my sick little jaundiced baby boy who became my Eagle Scout. I was prepared to go cold turkey/ No Johnny and then what happened?? Johnny texted me!!! I was so happy to hear from him and how his first night went and how he slept in his new bed etc. I got my johnny fix ….I feel like someone that needs medication for a medical condition. NO medication and your condition worsens but as long as you have that daily dose, you’re as fine as fine can be! I got my daily dose and I feel so much better! If I didn’t know before just how much i love my kids, I certainly do now that I am without one. As fast as the leaves changed on the trees and the wind is crisper, life has also. Enjoy your kids and every crazy moment good and bad because soon enough they grow up.
I am not a good emotional person. What I mean by that is I cry very easily, if I’m mad you know it because I can’t hide it, I cry when I’m happy, sad, sometimes when I’m mad too. My eyes always rat me out even when I have myself under control because they are red and glossy and swollen for quite a while. I am not brave when it comes to handling milestones like the one my son is about to celebrate in two days…College.
My oldest son, my second child, is going to be leaving me / us to live away at college and I’m a wreck. He’s only going an hour and a half away and it feels like he’s leaving the planet. I am not comforted by facetime or Skype or calls. It doesn’t make me feel better knowing I can get there in a pretty short time because well, this is college and it’s his time. I cannot chase him, don’t want to be that mother because really the outcome would be the opposite of how I want it. All I see when I look at him these days is a tiny little boy with shorts that look like jams because his legs were so little who has never been afraid of anything and has never known what “I can’t” meant. My Eagle Scout is now spreading his wings and it’s amazing that he’s ready….I’m not. I feel this huge hole in my chest. I can’t imagine how his roommate’s parents are going to handle leaving their son here in the USA and going back to Kuwait…ANOTHER COUNTRY! I can’t even brave one state over without feeling this tremendous sense of something is missing. Not having him around I guess will become normal in my routine so says my sweet friend Sharon. She texted me to tell me it will be ok and I believe her. She’s sent one off to school and sends another two this year. What is my PROBLEM! I can’t deal with one never mind 2 and a repeat. Where is all this strength that God is supposed to provide in times of need? I know it’s there, I’m just feeling sorry for myself and having a little pity party when no one is looking. Writing this is making me feel a little like I’m normal. I know it’s normal I just don’t feel normal. Things I’ll miss will include making his breakfast, lunch and dinner (yeah I’m that mom that other’s roll their eyes at) , not having him down the hall to tell a funny story to or to see his new magic tricks the moment he learns them. Not shouting down the hall that American Ninja Warriors is on and to come watch it with me. He won’t be in my yard traversing the obstacle course he created, no baseball in the yard, no stray whiffle balls that I find in my garden. His shoes won’t be strewn all over the house and the griddle will be clean LOL. The hair gel will be put away in the cabinet where it belongs and the weight room in our cellar probably won’t be in disarray much. My fire pit will remain half constructed for a while longer and there won’t be random half drunk gallons of water all over the house to pick up. Not having him there to tell the story of some dingbat doing something stupid that I read about in my newsfeed during my day will be a bit like a hiccup and a burp at the same time. Like swallowing a giant mouthful of water with an air pocket and waiting for the pain to go away.
I do still have two awesomes at home and they will keep me happy, preoccupied and busy. They are two of my three reasons for not staying at rock bottom several years ago. When I tumbled into the abyss the light from my kids shined down to me and showed me the way back. My oldest, my only daughter Katy, who is my doppelganger and one of the greatest people on this planet, commutes to her college and lives at home still. I don’t mind because I love having her at home even though she isn’t “at home” all that much. I still kiss her goodnight even if it’s late and sometimes get to have a conversation that lasts more than 5 minutes face to face. We have lunch sometimes and usually share a text each day if not just to say I love you. She inspires me and makes me a better person all round. My youngest son James is a joy. He is so funny and good natured. He’s a great kid and turned 17 today….17! He has 2 years of high school left to finish so I’ll be busy as he begins finding what he wants to do with his life and we start preparing for him to take the same steps his siblings have. He has this gigantic wingspan that envelops me when he hugs me. I always feel better when James scoops me up and gives me kisses on my cheek. All my children make me so happy. I just am finding out how much I dislike one going away. I’ll just rub some dirt in it and suck it up and get over it. It’ll be fine.
I know this is how life is supposed to go with John leaving. I know this is good for him and it will be the days that will be what he refers to as the best times of his life later in life. I know it’s a right of passage and he is not afraid. I wasn’t afraid either and this is no different from when I moved out of my house and into my first apartment I guess. I now have sadness for my mother because I wonder if she felt this way. I don’t think so because she and I are not close like I am with all my kids. They are my best buddies, my crew, my peeps and unfortunately for them they are my entire world. This is a good thing because our family will have what I did not even if it’s because honestly I couldn’t / wouldn’t have it any other way. I can’t be without them and I hate the way it has to happen because I never liked the Band-Aid getting ripped off but this new little adjustment to not having them around all the time is probably more beneficial to me than them. I’m happy it’s one at a time I suppose so the wound to my soul can heal over and callous before it’s time to take another step in the therapy process. I guess it’s like therapy for a phobia…you have to face it to deal with it or it will consume you.
I took this picture of John when we visited the school he is now about to call home.
I am tremendously happy for him and scared and sad to leave him at school but the opportunity he is about to embark on is amazing and wonderful and exciting and he deserves this opportunity. It’s his time and I’m so proud of him I could bust. As you walk away from me through the door that leads to your future, don’t forget that home is never far away and the door is never locked! I Love You Johnny!