October 17, 2016

They Miss You, Too! Week Nine

I am halfway through my 18 week journey. Part of this live blogging strategy is that I intend to blog each week until the end of the year and then take those instant, week-by-week, reactions and turn them into logical chapters in a book. Capturing each week as it unfolds lends a sense of timely authenticity.

This past weekend was Parent's Weekend at my younger daughter's school. She attends school 400 miles away (versus 8 miles for daughter #1). We haven't seen her since August 13th. For those of you counting, that was 63 days/nine weeks. It was longer than when her sister went overseas for a summer study abroad.

With my older daughter spending the weekend dog-sitting for us, we headed west.

We didn't really care about the family picnics or the mixers, we just wanted to see our child. We left at the crack of dawn on Saturday and drove 6 hours until we arrived on her campus. She told us she had to work until 1:00 in the afternoon and so with accounting for the time difference, we had time to stop for lunch. An interesting side note is that the owner of our now favorite burger joint remembered us from both orientation and then move-in weekend. Made us feel practically local!

With full bellies and a care package in the trunk, we parked on campus to wait. Nervously pacing the last 15 minutes, anxiously awaiting the chance to see our girl, finally she spotted us from across the street and sprinted to us. Straight out of a movie, the hugs and joy and tears were obvious. She looks great and so so happy.

The rest of the day, we tagged along with her as she fulfilled some obligations. She was volunteering at a St. Baldrick's fundraiser and we met person after person that she has become friends with.

My mind raced backwards to all the reasons I was happy to leave high school behind. My daughter has blossomed into "the happiest person ever" (as the clerk who checks her into her dorm calls her). She found a perfect fit for her future. Yet, amidst all that newfound joy? She still loves the not so distant past pieces of home. She was delighted that we brought flowers from my garden and pints from the local ice cream store. She misses our park and our dog. In other words, home has not been abandoned.

What I realized this past week is that while your children are growing and moving forward, that we have to remember how much of home they still carry with them.

On our drive home, we touched base with our older child to see how everything had gone. Because she lives on campus so close to home, she asked, "Do you mind if I just stay here again tonight?" I practically yelled, "OF COURSE NOT! MIND??? This is your home!" She gently reminded us that as a college senior, she is making that transition to full independence and she recognizes that while this is our home, she is now a guest.

I thought about it and of course, yes, we no longer stock the refrigerator with their favorite foods if it's not something we eat. We don't have their activities on our calendar, and honestly, I'm considering alternative uses for their bedrooms. Life is in flux and we are moving forward as much as they are.

I remember one Christmas when I was in college, I picked up a kitschy little country-decor picture of a house and it had some cliche' saying in calligraphy writing about loving home. But I added my own words to the bottom of the picture. I wrote, "I'll never stop coming home." Now I understand on the other end of it.

No, I didn't, and neither will they.

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