Coffee in my Left hand…
Hey! Did you all forget me? I felt like I had forgotten me too. SO much going on in my personal life, I let the drama, rather the worry about the drama, consume me. Life comes at you fast sometimes! Yeah, I went to work, fed my kids, called my mother; but the essence of me, the me who enjoys writing and reading, that me was consumed.
You hopefully remember enough of me to see that blog about the drama coming a mile away. But not today.
Last month I joined the ranks of hundreds of thousands who took their very first son/daughter to an expensive college somewhere in the USA. For me, it was my first born, my only daughter Lex (first name withheld to protect the innocent. And she better stay innocent)!
First some background. Every parent knows their child. Maybe not all their secrets, and the things they have gotten away with, but…we know our child. Lex is a very smart girl, but has always been quiet. Not ‘afraid to talk’ quiet, but watchful, introspective, and stubbornly quiet. She was my longest delivery, taking her sweet time to arrive, even though she had to know the playoffs were on and I was missing them! She finally came at her leisure and what was her first act of defiance? She refused to cry. I mean flat out would not cry. In newborn terms, this is a warning sign of large enough proportions to get all the nurses scrambling, eyeing each other and finally taking her away from me. We made eye contact, but still no tears. That story ends well (it’s a story we share every birthday), but suffice it to say, she was purposeful from jump in deciding when and where to emote. I remember one time I tried to give her a spanking (look, stop reading right now if the term spanking offends you; you missed your window on that one), and she refused to cry. I mean, held it in until I gave up. Immediately it took me back to her birth and I realized this is who she is, this is how she defines strength. She takes forever to answer a question, as she calculates exactly how much she is going to share with you. She is the queen of side eye: you can see her whole thought process in those dark almond eyes. I know my child.
And now it was time to send her off into the world.
I’d read all the articles “how to let go”, “how to prepare for your empty nest”, “how not to act a fool when you drop them off”, and thought I was ready to do this. My friends and family kept asking me, “are you okay? Don’t worry, she’ll be fine” to the point that I fully expected to be a basket-case the entire ride there. I did all the Mom things: tried to help her pack, pled with her to take at least one semi-formal, bought 4 months’ worth of everything I could think of, buying this and organizing that. I asked her every 30 minutes “did you remember _____”; only to be met with a forced smile and that reality TV worthy side eye saying, “Yes Ma”. We were ready to go.
We got her to her dorm, and began the unpacking. Before you start, I did not helicopter her. I asked, “where would you like this? Can I hang up these up? Is it okay if I put a basket here?” and waited for the responses. She seemed happy for the help (no side eyes), and we were making progress until…the roommate arrived. Thank God she was a nice girl with a nice mom! They shared interests and immediately hit it off; a prayer answered. We went to lunch and left her roommate alone to start her unpacking. Something shifted at lunch. Long thoughtful answers to questions, side glances, sighs; my quiet girl was back. I think the roommate made it real for her. After all, this is her experience right? Her change of address, change of lifestyle; beginning of adulthood. The roommate symbolized her autonomy. She now had this other mostly adult person to do things with, start this journey with, and Mom just didn’t fit into the scenario (insert sighs and hugs for Mom here ____). Not being one to stick around where I’m not wanted (read that with extra attitude cuz that’s how I’m writing it), I abruptly decided to go. I got the car, put some boxes and suitcases she didn’t need in it, and prepared to go. On the porch of her dorm, I hugged and kissed her goodbye. Reminded her that she would be fine, and not one single tear was shed.
I didn’t get to take her grocery shopping, or help decorate her room, or all the other fun stuff Instagram reminds me daily that the other Moms got to do. But I did look her in her eyes and see determination to make it on her own. And for me, that’s decoration enough.
Coffee in my left hand, goodbyes in my right.