The tears surprised me. The weepiness I felt driving away from my first parents’ weekend. My son is a sophomore, but I had missed last year’s event, so I was so thankful to have spent this weekend with him. He wouldn’t be home for Thanksgiving this year, so I did expect to feel a pang and to be a little sad leaving him, but honestly, I’m not really the weepy type.
Dropping him off for his freshman year, I teared up a little saying goodbye, of course. But I wasn’t that mom who looked at his closed door, or went into his empty, very clean room and cried. I was too happy for him; he was in his right place. When we talked, he was happy, making friends quickly, playing soccer and tennis, and doing well academically as well. How could I cry when he was so clearly thriving? I didn’t—I was honestly just too excited he’d found his perfect fit school.
That’s not to say I didn’t miss him. I did. The house was a little too quiet, even with Kylie filling it with laughter and dance parties in the kitchen. We were down a debater for dinner—it was just the three of us duking it out now. I totally over bought at the grocery store. But I knew we had done our jobs as parents. We had raised him to be independent, strong, and to go after what he wanted. And that’s what he was doing.
So I didn’t anticipate the shift this year. I didn’t expect to feel the heart tugging when he had too much homework to meet on Sunday. I didn’t allow for the sting of tears in my eyes when we were driving away. I didn’t really recognize the feeling of leaving a little piece of my heart in Connecticut.
I was excited to see him on Friday and my heart felt so full hugging him hello. The weekend was great. We sat by the water, ate lobster and ice cream, took a walk and ate more lobster. We saw several a cappella groups perform one day, and watched soccer the next. We went to Target and I found myself trying to buy a million things for him, but he didn’t need much at all.
He’s been busy growing up at college. Without me. And he’s doing a damn good job of it. I’m so proud of him. He is in the right place doing all the right things—just like last year. But this year, when I leave him I am crying. I get choked up a few more times on the drive, and I have tears in my eyes writing this.
Who knew? I may just be that mom after all.
Dana Baker is a parent and teen coach, a writer and a not-so-perfect mom of two great kids. She offers a non judgmental ear and real life observations and advice that help you navigate the up, the downs and the downright uglies of parenting. Her insightful ness comes with a good dose of humor and the simple recognition that no matter how hard we may try, none of us is a perfect parent.