August 27, 2011 by wcobserver
Well, it finally happened. I wasn’t always sure we’d make it this far. But after years of milestones and a few madcap moments along the way, my oldest son left for college last week.
It’s ironic… there have been occasions throughout his life when I would’ve given my right arm not to be responsible for his day to day needs… like his first night home from the hospital, when he cried incessantly for 18 hours. About six hours in, I started to cry. An hour later his dad started to cry. The three of us sat there in a sea of used tissues and snot, not having the slightest clue what we were supposed to be doing. I remember saying, “I can’t do this for the next 18 years… he’s four days old and he already hates me.”
But we did do it. We made it through teething, walking, potty training, and endless episodes of Barney. We muddled through the first day of pre-school where I spent the entire three hours outside in the parking lot, just in case he needed me. We figured out reading, riding a bike, and the fact that Velcro was easier than learning to tie shoes. I drove hours to collect Beanie Babies, took care of an ailing Tamagotchi for an entire school year, and… in an act of love and solidarity (with a dash of insanity), I even memorized all 151 original Pokemon. Together, my son and I lived through overnight camp, being the “new kid,” last minute school projects, his first break-up, learning to drive, starting to shave, and the year that going to the prom in an orange tux seemed like a good idea. We learned as we went along… but we did it together.
This parent thing isn’t for everyone. It’s a lot of hard work, emotional heartache and the realization that it’s forever. It’s the knowledge that you’ll spend the rest of your life crying at Hallmark commercials and losing sleep over what “could happen,” every time your child walks out the door. It’s accepting the fact that a call from the police will always leave you feeling sick to your stomach, even after you’ve found out that they were just calling for a donation to the department. It’s finding out that, 18 years after that first night home from the hospital… not being responsible for his day to day needs isn’t quite the relief you thought it would be.
The truth is… for every time he hit his brother or wouldn’t brush his teeth… for every time he left a wet towel on the floor or an empty glass by the bed… for each time he didn’t feed the dog, put away the milk or hang up his coat, he made up for it a thousand times over.
What I got were the toothless little smiles, the morning snuggles, the laughter from the jokes heard for the first time. What I got was the fulfillment of knowing that sometimes I was the only person that could make it all better and the knowledge that the love I got was as unconditional as the love I gave.
Like thousands of other mothers who will send a child off to college this year, I am so excited for my son. I know he is in the homestretch to adulthood, his future within reach, and full of possibilities. But oh what I wouldn’t give to hear him call for me one more time… to hear him ask for one more story… or just one more song. What I wouldn’t give to bring him one more glass of water, kiss him good night and tell him I didn’t mind at all… not one little bit.