The day had arrived and it was time to travel north to carry my son off to college. We had prepared for months and loaded the back of my husband's truck with boxes and bins full of things from home that I was certain my child would need. We passed cars on the highway that were obviously carrying their children to college and I feared we may have actually overpacked as we passed a Prius with a student, her suitcase and a laundry basket. We had a small refrigerator, half of the Apple store, clothing for every type of weather event, pictures, whoozits and whatnots. As we approached the college with our bed of goods, I prepared myself to announce proudly that I was checking two students into school. It was the only explanation I could come up with. It was about that time when the giant Penske truck rolled in and quickly diverted attention away from us and we were no longer "that family" who overpacked. There are people, out there, far worse than I. By the time the evening was over, I witnessed tired dads carrying in appliances, tables, chairs, and dressers to try to create that homelike atmosphere for their children. I love those people as they validate my own need to sometimes go a bit over the top. They let me know I'm not alone in my craziness.
In a moment that came much too soon, however, I left my son at school and made the six hour drive home in a state of pride, shock, and sadness. When they hand you that baby in the hospital, it should come with a warning label that says your heart will never be the same. It will swell with pride. It will race with excitement as each new chapter of life brings new wonder and it will break when that day comes that you must let go and allow that child to make their own life.
I understand the natural order of things, but that doesn't mean I have to embrace it all at once. My friends have frowned on my decision to drive my son's car around and promise an intervention if I don't return to my own vehicle within a few weeks. I'm not worried, though. I know I'm okay, for the joy comes when you know that your child is happy and is well prepared for what comes next. How could he not be with 37 shirts, a single cup coffee maker, instructions on how to wash clothes cleverly pasted on his screen saver and enough Ramen noodles to last the winter. While we may have overpacked, we carried with us additional things that weren't in those bins and suitcases.... years of training. It is that exact training that gives me comfort knowing my son understands the importance of honor, the need for compassion, the strength of family roots, the power of vision and the faith to approach it without fear. It is his time now and what a blessing that is!
As your heart swells with pride at the accomplishments still to come, the ache of him being gone from home will ease and you'll find comfort in knowing you've done oh so well for him. The school bus windows are full, he's out the door, but heartstrings are at least 6 hours long and strong.
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