Many of my friends whose children are nearing the college years ask me if saying goodbye gets easier, and while it’s probably not what they want to hear, I always answer with a definitive “no.” I wish I could say that it did. I would love nothing more than to tell them that, after that initial freshman year send-off, it becomes routine, but that would make me a liar. The truth is that each time she comes home, my little world feels complete, and when the time comes for her to return to school, a sizable piece of my heart goes off to live in Oxford.
The quick trips home are less painful, as she seems more like a guest, but those lengthy stays during summer and winter break trick me into believing she has taken up residency here again. We easily fall back into our board game playing, reality tv watching, music listening, chit chatting routine, and my world feels right. It’s not until those last few days of break when I see her bags emerging and her clothes forming somewhat organized stacks that reality sets in, and I am forced to admit that those fun plans I hear her making will be carried out in Mississippi. I begin to experience that unmistakable ache in my chest, and I fight hard to keep any tears I feel forming in my eyes from slipping out.
If it sounds terrible, it is. And it isn’t. I am fortunate to have been blessed with a daughter who is brimming with independence and self-confidence. I find comfort in the knowledge that she is truly happy at school. I know that she is making memories that she will cherish throughout the her life. I love watching her grow into a strong young woman (even if it is from five hours away), and I look forward to watching her make her mark on the world when her college years are behind her. I also know that, while I may not like it, I can survive without seeing her for weeks at a time. I realize that I have even grown a little from letting her go.
I have shed more than a few tears today as I putter around my too-quiet house, but I know from experience that tomorrow will be brighter. I will likely smother her younger sibling more than he would like for the next few days, but he will indulge me because he is sweet and he gets it. And I’ve got work and Mardi Gras to keep me busy. I’m allowing myself the rest of today to embrace my sadness, but I’ll be ready to face the world tomorrow…puffy eyes and all.