“Never forget me, because if I thought you would, I'd never leave.”
- A. A. Milne
I recently dropped my son off at college. As I pulled back into my driveway after crying the 7 hours back to NY from Virginia, I felt the same way that I felt walking into my house after dropping him off for his first day of kindergarten. The feeling that an era is over – a poignant milestone that seems to accelerate the passage of time.
One thing that really struck me as I drove away from my near 19 year old was that I missed the little boy version of him the most. I found myself reminiscing about him when he was 6 or 7 – white blonde hair, toothless smile, affectionate. A little boy who hasn’t been around for many years. Not to say, the young man version of him isn’t wonderful – smart, interesting, motivated- he is exceptional, just different.
It is, of course completely arbitrary to pin so much emotion on the milestone of the first day of school or the college drop off – in reality this flux, is constant. Every day life changes a little, we age, things/relationships fade and new ones take their place. We cope with this constant loss in by daily life by mostly ignoring it. However, during these times of visible, palpable transition – we can’t ignore it – so instead it can seem to flood us with emotions.
This is what is supposed to happen, by the way, with growth and change. We want our kids to launch, to grow up healthy and happy and ready to explore the big wide world. We want growth and change for ourselves and our own lives – but there is a loss with each milestone, opportunity, new adventure. So when it happens, it can feel complicated.
As I embark on this most recent transition and new era in my life, I am heartened by the fact that I can close my eyes and instantly see that little boy from so long ago. I have to believe he has a piece of me when I was a young mom nestled inside of him as well. I need not fear change and growth – as long as I don’t forget all that came before.
For more musings on the transition back to school at the end of the summer, see my recent appearance on my friend, Carly's radio show: August 31, 2016