For all of you mothers who got to buy pencils, five-subject notebooks and calculators this year, rejoice. You are the lucky ones.
Forget about the bill or worrying about shifting the kids’ sleep schedules to accommodate early morning school days, the years that you do these things will come to an end too soon.
I know. I still remember dropping off my youngest at college just a few years ago.
As we drove the eight-hour trek, ate pretzels and drank Diet Coke, we talked about our eighteen years together.
I asked him the tough questions. What would he have done differently? What did he think I should have done differently? Had he really minded when I was away on work trips? His answers were sobering.
He might have played hockey instead of soccer or practiced drums more. And me? Perhaps he was in a sentimental mood, but he insisted that I hadn’t traumatized him too much.
In his boyish curt mannerism, he said, “Mom, I loved my childhood.” When he said this, I burst into tears which flowed for 48 hours.
What he was telling me was that life, as we have always known it together, was over. Sure, he would always be my only son, the one who was left behind with me when his older sisters went off to college or got married. He and I always stayed behind. But now, I would stay behind and he would become absorbed in a whole new life.
After we set up his room (I insisted on making up his bed) and pestered him that he really did want me to make curtains for the one tiny window in his room, I busied myself with menial tasks.
We went to the grocery store together, to meetings for the Engineering students and to the bank. Everywhere we went on campus, I scoured students to see if they were friendly. As the hours passed, the internal ache intensified and I felt him pulling away. He had to.