Flipping the calendar from August to September represents more than just the start of a new school year for kids, their teachers, and bus drivers. It's also the start of a new season for parents; funny thing is it doesn't matter if you're the parent of a 2nd grader or a college student. My youngest packed up last week and headed back to college for her senior year. As the parents of a last child going through the process there are a lot of things that will change; some we're glad for, others not so much.
My husband and I were thrilled that we did not have to tote a mini-fridge or microwave this year; especially since her campus apartment does not have an elevator and she's on the 3rd floor (that's 35 steps up and 35 steps back down, but who's counting). We're certainly not saddened that we'll never have to complete another FAFSA form. There has been a realization this past week, though, that while the routine has seemed extremely familiar it also seems a bit nostalgic. It's a big year; for her and for us. She has a lot on her plate this year with musical performances, classes, internships, a pep band job, and being the president of a new school club ... oh and just to add more into the mix she's hosting her own radio show once a week.
For my husband and I, we have another 2 semesters to help prepare us for our empty nest (good thing we really like each other). Of course, she's more than welcome to come back home after graduation (at least til she's ready to start the next phase of her life). So what did we do this past week? We helped our daughter move back to school. Once in her room I did, once again, what I've done for her and her brother on move-in day each and every year at college ... I unpacked the linens and made the bed, then took her to the grocery store and bought her a bag of groceries. For the first week, at least, I have complete peace of mind that she has a comfy, clean bed and food to eat for breakfast. From here on out it's her responsibility to remember to eat and make her bed (fortunately she is a neat freak and always keeps her room organized and clean ... proud mom moment).
I remember when my son had his first move-in day at college (back in 2004). We pulled the car up to the curb and were given 10 minutes to unpack EVERYTHING onto the lawn, then move the car. We could take as long as we needed then to transfer everything to his room. I stood in awe and watched some parents unpack their car, hug their child (young adult), then drive away and leave them standing there alone with all their stuff in a giant pile on the lawn. I can't tell you how many 'piles' I supervised for kids I didn't know just so they could start making trips to their room. It was their first clear moment of panic. I always believed that the responsibilities of being a parent didn't end when the child turned 18 or you dropped them off at their college, but maybe I am old-fashioned.
Next spring when our daughter graduates she will walk across the stage and receive her diploma and afterwards we'll hug and look at each other and say, 'We did it!' Okay, maybe 95% of the credit will be hers, but the other 5% will go to my husband and I (for the packing, the unpacking, the carrying of mini-fridges and microwaves, the financial assistance, the pep talks, the Sunday dinner leftovers packed in Tupperware containers, the mailed cards with encouraging words, and the homemade treats - enough for her AND all the roommates.)
So here's to another year. May it be an exciting one full of good challenges and lots of memories.