Seven weeks, six days, 13 hours, and 27 minutes from now (give or take), I will kiss my child, turn my back and walk away from him as he moves into his dorm room at college. Definitely a milestone and one I was never sure we would ever see. At one point, I believed that he would not even graduate from high school. Life tosses us twists and turns that change our trajectory, and a radical change in his high school enrollment has ultimately led to his successful graduation from high school and his decision that he was college material after all.
Choosing The Right College:
Thing One and I visited colleges in various locations. We evaluated a school 45 minutes from home. A good school, one from which I earned a degree. We took a road trip to a unique school in a bordering state. We took a flight to a school on the West coast. Each option had pros and its cons. The close-to-home school has an interesting music technology program that is actually a music degree as opposed to a technology degree. The school in a neighboring state felt a bit like his current high school in terms of size and music focus. The out-of-state school, though, blew his mind. He felt completely at home there, knows that the music scene in that part of the country is rich with opportunities, and it is about as far from home as he could get without going to school internationally.
Last fall, we began the process of elimination. Finally, he pinned his hopes on the West coast school. Expensive. Far away. Complicated. He worked hard to earn scholarships and decided how much he was willing to take in loans. Worried about making up the difference without having to live in a refrigerator box, I took a deep breath and started earnestly building my freelance writing business.
Slowly but surely, pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place.
As a parent, I have worked diligently to provide my child with all the tools he needs to be confident, self-assured, and independent. He can do laundry. He can make a phone call. He can take care of himself. (Side note: He does not always DO laundry, MAKE the phone call or take CARE of himself…but he is capable of doing so).
While I dread his leaving, and sob frequently when I ponder it, I do not want him to be 40 years old, wiping orange Cheetos dust on my couch while plays video games all day. He needs to grow up. He needs to move on. Even if that means going far away. I have always believed that if we love our children, we have to let them go. Not always easy, to be sure.
So the decision has been made. The deposits have been sent. Dorm room reservations and food service plans have been ordered. Flights, hotels and rental cars have been booked. He is going to school 1982 miles from home.
When questioned by my former husband about how I could possibly let him go so far from home for school, I was forced to articulate my thoughts.
It comes down to this: while I will miss my first-born son intensely, I raised him to be confident, independent and to go after his dreams. Now that he wants to, how can I tell him “No, you must do so within a three-hour radius of my heart”?
I don’t think so. He is ready to fly.