He’s Growing Up In College…Without Me

The tears surprised me. The weepiness I felt driving away from my first parents weekend.  My son is a sophomore but I had missed last year’s event; so I was so thankful to have spent this weekend with him. To see him in his new space and observe how he interacted with it. He won’t be home for Thanksgiving this year, so I did expect to feel a pang and to be a little sad leaving him, but honestly, I’m not really the weepy type.

Dropping him off for his freshman year I teared up a little saying goodbye, of course. But I wasn’t that mom sobbed the whole way home. I didn’t look longingly at his closed door, or wander into his empty, very clean room and cried.  I was too happy for him; he was in his right place. When we talked he was happy, making friends quickly, playing soccer and tennis, and doing well academically to boot. How could I cry when he was so clearly thriving? I didn’t—I was honestly just too excited he’d found his perfect-fit school.

That’s not to say I didn’t miss him. I did. The house was a little too quiet, even with Kylie filling it with laughter and having our dance parties in the kitchen. We were down a debater for dinner—it was just the three of us duking it out now.  I totally overbought at the grocery store and I often had something to tell him or laugh with him about that lost its relevance in a text or a SnapChat. But here’s the thing: I knew we had done our jobs as parents.

We raised him to be independent, strong, and to go after what he wanted. And that’s what he was doing.

So I didn’t anticipate the emotional shift this year.  I didn’t expect to feel the heart-tugging when he had too much homework to meet us for breakfast on Sunday. When we stopped by to give him a hug, I held on a few seconds longer than normal, perhaps.  But I  didn’t allow for the sting of tears in my eyes when we were driving away. I didn’t really recognize the feeling of leaving a little piece of my heart in Connecticut. I didn’t anticipate the tears.

I was excited to see him on Friday and my heart felt so full hugging him hello.  The weekend was great. We sat by the water, ate lobster and ice cream, took a walk and ate more lobster. We saw several acapella groups perform one day, and watched soccer the next. We went to Target and I found myself trying to buy a million things for him; but he didn’t need much at all.

He’s been busy growing up at college. Without me. And he’s doing a damn good job of it. I’m so proud of him. He is in the right place doing all the right things—just like last year.  But this year, when I leave him I am crying. I get choked up a few more times on the drive; and I have tears in my eyes writing this.

Who knew?  I may just be that mom after all.

Dana Baker

Dana Baker is a writer, a not-so-perfect mom of two and a Parent and Teen Coach. Founder of Parenting In Real Life, Dana knows first hand the challenges of raising a child with anxiety as well as ADHD and some depression. She understands the ups, the downs and the downright uglies and offers a reality check and a dose of good humor in her advice from the trenches. Dana has been featured in RealityMoms, Grown & Flown, Parent.com, Thrive Global, and ADDitude. You can find more about Dana on Parenting in Real Life.

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