My daughter took her first college final yesterday.
You know what that means?
“She’s been existing on pop-tarts and anxiety for the past week?” you say.
Well, sure, but besides that.
It means her first semester of college is over.
For those of you who rode shotgun with me on the angst-ridden journey that led to her flying the nest, you’ll understand how I’m blinking my eyes real fast and looking over my shoulder to wonder how this has already happened, and since I spent months and countless posts detailing the dread and fear of letting her go, I figured I should give you a status update.
How has she been gone for four months, and more importantly, how have I survived?
But I have.
And I have to say, I’m pretty proud of all of us.
Five months ago I’d never have believed you if you’d have told me this whole college separation thing—the existing in our home without the girl who is one-fourth responsible for giving it life—would have been possible without hospitalization, or at the very least, out-patient care. And while, sure, there have been medications involved from time to time, it’s not only been possible, but pretty seamless.
Hey, don’t knock the power of Xanax to help you sleep until you’ve tried it.
Other than those five or six weeks where I was mistakenly diagnosed with Adjustment Disorder (but was damn proud to own it, even if it did turn out to be hormone related), we’ve all powered through.
Because, really, what’s the alternative?
Thankfully, my daughter immediately settled in to college life: She made a group of great friends on her dorm floor who have quickly become her second family; took advantage of her beautiful campus; threw herself into participating in clubs and events; and *proud mama alert* auditioned for and was cast in her University’s production of Legally Blond. Not to mention she’s kicked some major educational butt this semester, which has all made it a hell of a lot easier for us back at home to adjust to days without her frequent hugs and nights without hearing her sing in the shower.
We’ve settled into our “new normal” which includes less laundry; more Oreos and microwave popcorn for the rest of us; an empty bed for husband to escape to when he snores; an extra car to drive when one of the other ones is running low on gas; and a fat, diabetic cat who now sleeps right next to my head instead of with her best buddy of 11 years.
Oh, and a dwarf hamster named Dumbledore.
It’s not to say there haven’t been challenges. My daughter is grappling with the usual dorm room complaints and other issues that come with the territory when you share a 10×15′ room with another human being; she’s existing on waffles and peanut butter; and is sick to death of having to shower in flip-flops (not to mention having to control her urge to sing her show-tune medly into her shower nozzle microphone).
For us here at home it’s more simple: we miss her face.
Thankfully, we see it via computer screen — often. We Google chat a few times a week and have eaten together, watched her fold laundry (both shocking and frightening in how it’s done), and watched an endless stream of new friends wander in and out of her room, hollering “hello!” at us. I talk to her on the phone almost daily when she’s walking across campus to class (and has nothing else to do, but I’ll take it) and get frequent texts messages with everything from asking what temperature to wash her sweaters on to texts that just say “whatcha doing?” I’ve even struggled with and somewhat learned how to Snap-Chat.
I’ve never loved technology more.
The point is, we’ve adjusted. It’s not ideal, but for reasons I still cannot fathom, my daughter refused to be home-colleged, even when I promised her she could pick the school color and mascot.
And although I said it four months ago, I say it with more certainty and belief now: She’s where she’s supposed to be and it’s all happening exactly the way it is supposed to happen.
I’m proud. I’m so proud of her.
I miss her. Obviously, I miss her. But I don’t miss her with the kind of sadness and emptiness I imagined I would four months ago. I think because her life is so full — her life away from mine, which may sound selfish, but if you’re a mama you’ll get it — it fills a bit of the emptiness that was left when she did. Does that make any kind of sense at all?
One semester down, and we’re all adjusting … and surviving.
She comes home on Saturday — for an entire month.
An entire month of seeing her face in front of mine in person, of getting her tight hugs, of a happy, fat and diabetic cat not sleeping next to my head, and of hearing her sing in the shower.
Will we all have to tackle the adjusments again mid-January? Sure we will, but now we know that not only can we do it, but that we kick butt at it.
And besides, it makes these hugs so, so much sweeter.
Parents of college-bound kids, stay tuned — later in the week I’ll be posting a handy list of Do’s and Don’ts so you, too, can survive!
Following YMFT on Facebook and Twitter saves baby reindeer from being sent to the glue factory!!
Okay, fine, it doesn’t, but it will bring you welcome distraction from whatever it is you are avoiding by being on the computer.