Nineteen years ago seems like such a life-time ago. In recent years we have both guided her and provided her with the tools needed for this day. But while I was guiding her and providing for her, I forgot one thing…to prepare myself.
Her brother left, or launched, seven years ago, but it was time. The family was ready for that other shoe to drop, and when it did, everyone breathed a sigh of relief. He was 26 years old and getting bossier and more annoyed with us by the day, until one day when he didn’t like something I was doing, we nearly got into a fist fight. At the final moment, this strapping 6’4″ 250 lbs. young man full of frustration, had me pinned on the stairs with the other fist raised in the air and his sisters both crying and screaming to stop fighting.
Well, it was at that moment, we both knew it was time for him to be independent and free of the confines of his childhood home. There was silence between us for about a week, then the next Sunday was Mother’s Day and I received the sweetest card ever from my dear son. A year later he married his girlfriend of six years. We have a wonderful relationship: he calls me on a whim during the week, I text him a love note and we have a wonderful relationship with his wife, our daughter-in-law whom we love dearly.
This time is different: it’s college and she is much younger than her brother was. She seems to be ready, though, where I am not. I‘m not ready to not hear violin music playing early in the morning and late in the evening, I’m not ready to part with the funny names she calls her younger sister and the goofy bantering she has with her father in the mornings. I’m not ready to not have to get her laundry out of the dryer so that I can do mine, or discover the package of razors empty in our bathroom, or hear her talking with the cats in her funny voices, or have to remind her to empty the dishwasher for the umpteenth time, or hear her talking in her sleep late at night.
Her father looked at me at one point over the past week and asked, “How are you doing, sweetheart?” We were both looking at her room that was slowly being packed up. I could tell he was sad at the changes happening, but not so sure how bad. He has been the kind of father that everybody calls Daddy. He loved playing with them when they were babies and toddlers: all kinds of silly games, calling them all kinds of silly names, and making sure they had enough fun toys to play with. As the girls grew up, his tasks changed too, from silly games to reading to them in the evening, to helping them with their math or science homework. In recent years, he would be out early in the morning checking the oil gauge and tire pressure as well as brake fluids etc., each week before they headed out to school or work. He is far better at new driver training than I am, too.
Years of sewing dresses, homeschooling, family trips, camping, going to the beach, Mass each and every Sunday morning have come to this day. We all went with her to her dorm Sunday night carrying boxes, bags, books, wall posters, and a violin. She has her Dr. Who blanket on the bed, her rosary hanging on the desk shelf next to her bed, and her bible in the bookcase. She has promised Fr. Bill at the Newman Center that she will join the music for Mass on Sunday nights.
We did good by her, I think. We will always be her parents, I will always pray for her and her siblings and daddy. Yes, her sister, daddy, and I will miss her, and the house just won’t be the same without her here, but it is what it is. She is growing up and in college now as it should be. Leaving her dorm Sunday night, she called out to us that she will come home for Christmas, I called back to her, “What? You are just across town!”
Copyright 2014, Ebeth Weidner