“It is always sad when someone leaves home, unless they are simply going around the corner and will return in a few minutes with ice-cream sandwiches.”
“It’s ok, because she is only going ‘down the street’”…”Thank God she’s staying in state”… “She’s 5 miles down the road”…. Does any of these things make you feel better? Does it really matter if she is 5 miles down the road or 500? Is it really the distance that they are from home base? I agree that I would die if she was going to college out of state. I already have planned on what will happen if the boys go out of state and I have two more years to worry about it. The odds that all of my kids will attend Arizona colleges are pretty slim. I don’t even want to be in Arizona. I want some sand in my toes and beachy tossed curls in my hair (wait we aren’t talking about me yet)… What it boils down to is that the distance doesn’t really matter when another kid leaves the house. It isn’t about WHERE they are. It isn’t about how quickly we can get to each other if we need to be. In a world of so many internet options is anyone ever really far away anyways? I mean I can stalk her/their Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook if I want to see what the cool kids are up to these days; I do it now and she is only 17 steps upstairs. A parent that does not have a child leaving the so-called nest will never understand that it doesn’t matter how near or far they are when they step out into that great big world. What matters is that the four walls of your home and life as you know it are tumbling down. In 17 steps I can walk into the world that defines Ashley. I can open her bedroom door and step over mounds and mounds of clothes on the floor to discover her buried under a pile of blankets in her bed. I can ask her how her day or night was and ask her if she wants breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I can see that she spent the night in a Kardashian marathon on her tv. I can see that she must have gone downstairs and made herself a bagel in the middle of the night as pieces of it remain on her bedside table. In 17 steps I can see her makeup vanity, her messy closet, her empty shampoo bottles, her curling irons and brushes, her music choices, her high school memories scattered on cork boards. In 17 steps I can see what defines Ashley. Then those walls are broken down… and life as you know it isn’t the life that you know. Distance to college isn’t the issue. It’s knowing that this is the time that you prepared for all those years. Did I teach them enough about kindness and empathy? Did I demonstrate enough strength? Did I show them the road to happiness and friendships? Did they learn to lock doors and open hearts? Did they learn the importance of dedication and relaxation? Do they know how to clean bathrooms and bedrooms? When they are hungry will they have someone to eat with? Will they be ok if they are alone? Will they be confident in a crowd? Will they make new friends? Will they find their classes? Will they participate in school events like assemblies, and sorority rush, and volleyball, and dorm meetings, and football games? Will they know how to do all the things that I used to schedule for them? Did I teach them how to do these things? Are they ready? Am I ready? So we pack up the Uhaul with pieces of Ashley’s life. The comforts of home neatly compiled into moving boxes…the important stuff goes and the life she’s leaving behind stays in her old room and she prepares to scatter herself into her new life…her new home… into new walls that will hold new memories…a new beginning…a new Ashley. And it turns out that it doesn’t matter if she were going to a foreign country or down the street. What it’s really about is change…and change can be hard. I think of it as a ‘How to Parent’ test. A parent graduation of sorts. Did I do my best at the most important job that there is? Did I fill her up with everything she needs to be a good person. A kind person. Not just a successful student or the life of the party. Did I make a GOOD person? A KIND human? So as she steps out onto this big blue marble that we live on I can only hope that she can look back at her childhood and the memories made in these four walls and think ‘What would mom do?’…”How would mom handle this?” and if she doesn’t know the answers or it gets to hard she can look behind her and see the trails of crumbs that I’ve left to lead her back to me to find those answers….I guess THAT is one of the benefits of being ‘just down the street’.