Today I am very happy to have one of my closest friends guest posting for me. Like me her child is going off to college but her situation is a little different than mine, I still have two more children at home. Read her heartfelt words and make sure to send her lots of love with your comments.
What I Did on My Summer Vacation
Yep – that’s what I often have my students write in their journals during their first week back at school. I know it sounds cliché, but I really do enjoy finding out how my students spent their summer holiday.
Inevitably, there’ll be one child who will ask about my summer. It’s always sweet when they do. And I love sharing about a trip to my beloved Blue Ridge Mountains to spend time with my family or about a fun day at Busch Gardens. This year will be different. This year I’ll have to share a more somber story. One of dread and sadness. One of saying goodbye to my only child as he packs up and goes off to college.
Since before we had our son almost 18 years ago, we have been planning for him to go to college. We have saved and planned and pushed him down that path – there really were no other options. Sure, I told him I’m more than happy if he stays here and goes to our local community college. However, I had the experience of going away to school and I know how great it is. I want him to have that too. I know it will be liberating for him to start his season of adulthood. I just wish I was going to see it firsthand.
Now that it is a reality, however, I’m spending more time worrying. I worry about all the things that could happen to him. What if he gets locked out of his room? What if his roommate is a sociopath? What if he oversleeps and misses a test? What if he gets homesick? What if he gets sick? What if . . . . the list goes on and on. Then I have worries about myself – what will I do? Who will watch The Walking Dead with me? Your typical mom worries!
I am beginning to feel like it must be similar to grief. Going through stages. For me, I started at nervous – will he even get accepted at the school he wants to go to (yes). Then excitement – wow! He got in! Then worry – how on earth will we ever pay for this (it works out somehow). Following that it was feeling anxious – only 6 weeks to go, only 5 weeks to go, etc. Now I have stepped deeply into all of them with some extreme sadness on the side. Sad that I won’t see him every single day. Sad that I won’t get to hear his overly informative opinions on Dr. Who, Top Gear, the Miami Dolphins, or guitar strings.
That’s where my summer story gets murky. Should I really title it “My Summer of Grieving?” Because everyone tells me I should be happy – happy that he’s going to school to make new friends and to start his life. Some have even hinted to me that my child WILL BE FINE! In sharing my sorrow, many people have tried to ‘fix’ it or (in my opinion) invalidate it. Not many have just listened or offered comfort. My grief comes from having been a certain kind of mom to my only child for 17 ½ years and that is ending. Why would people try to talk me out of those feelings?
So, as I say goodbye to my baby and I say hello to a new group of 3rd graders, I will remind myself that I am not alone in this. We all have problems and stories to share. Sometimes we aren’t looking for solutions, just someone to listen. Maybe those 3rd graders will be just what I need! And yes, I’m sure my baby boy will be fine.
Sherry is currently a third grade teacher. Virginia is her home and heart. Bassett specifically. Even though she lives right down the road from me in North Carolina. She has been married 24 years. Her husband is retired USAF. One son – 17. She koves her Scottie dog Wallace. She don’t trust people who don’t read books. She loves musicals, 80’s music, and Adam Levine. ( She was the one who went the movie prescreening with me.) And cooking. She loves loves loves to cook.