My sister got on my case the other night when I told her that I wouldn’t be joining her in DC for our annual girls’ weekend. Her expectations were not unwarranted. We try to take a sister-trip every year, one that usually revolves around her work as an insurance agent. However, due to serious illnesses on both our parts, we’d missed the last two years. Suffice it to say, I was really looking forward to our time together. But you know what they say about best laid plans.
After quickly mentioning that her conference would be in DC this year (while downsizing her home; running a business; and being a single parent), details from my sister dried up. It wasn’t until she literally forwarded her hotel confirmation email, that I noticed the dates: dueling schedules which meant that I would be on the West Coast, dropping my Number 1 son at college, during Stephanie’s visit to our area. While I hate to miss out on the late night talks, socializing, and enjoying one too many glasses of wine together, this could be one of the last mother-son activities that Chris and I will ever share. EVER may seem like a really strong word here, but he’s moving on. I’m the one who’s being left behind, along with his dad and two younger brothers.
I remember being his age, barely able to contain my excitement over leaving home to pursue my new, grown-up life. Back then, I didn’t know there was a difference between becoming an adult and being a grown-up. And being a grown-up means you make grown-up decisions, like committing to seeing your firstborn through his transition to college, even if he is 18.
Since Stephanie also has a teenaged son, I knew she was kidding when she teased, “I can’t believe you’re chosing to take your kid to college instead of seeing me! What kind of WEIRD PARENTING is that? Just because he’s going to school in another country…”
I might not have been a semi-finalist in the NGB (okay, that’s not really a thing), National Geographic Bee, but I am certain that Seattle is in the U.S; I told her so.
But Stephanie just responded, “Um. It may as well be another country.” (Spoken like a true Texan.) She had a point. For about the same distance, (give or take 80 miles and a student visa) he might as well be going to school in Ecuador! And that’s on another continent and below the equator!! THANKS SIS! I hadn’t considered any of this before talking to you. I feel much better now.
I also finally understand why some moms delivered the cartoon-eye-popping-stare when I told them that Chris would be leaving our mid-Atlantic home for the Pacific Northwest. “You’re going to let him go that far away? Could he go any farther away?” were the two most commonly asked questions, followed by: “Aren’t you going to miss him?”
Well, yeah…to all inquiries. (1) He was allowed to apply to any university, provided he was able to secure scholarship money, which he did; (2) He could have gone farther away…like Ecuador (see previous paragraph); and (3) You’d miss your child if he went away to school, regardless of the distance.
Perhaps that was the point some of my friends were trying to make. They couldn’t fathom the thought of having their college kid so far from home. I get it. But we are the parents who attended college across the country (Jeff) and who moved to Hawaii after graduate school (me). In our WEIRD PARENTING world, our son moving 2,300+ miles away seems like a natural choice.
Besides, I am confident that we have done a good job raising him. He will make mistakes, just like we did. And he will figure things out; he’s a smart kid. After all, we trusted him enough to fly across the country (without us) for college tours. I look forward to visiting his campus for the first time when I deliver him there later next month. (WEIRD PARENTING, right?)
And while I might not feel the need to squeeze out every living, breathing moment with him before he takes off, I do want to enjoy this rite of passage before he pushes me out to make room for his new life. He’s a teenager, so the pushing is well underway. Like labor, it’s painful but hopefully seeing your beautiful baby boy turn into a caring, responsible, kind and productive man helps erase the pain.
So as much as I love spending time with my sister, and I really do, I won’t be able to join her this year. I’ve got more WEIRD PARENTING to do.