The other day I overheard several teachers talking about dropping their children off at college.
Some of them cried the entire six-hour drive home.
So did their husbands.
Literally. Like… tears and everything.
After listening to them for a while, I sort of wanted to cry. Because I couldn’t fathom feeling that way. I started to question my own emotional well-being. Shouldn’t I be crying? Is there something fundamentally wrong with my ability to attach to my children?
The thing is–it just seems like something a parent would be excited about. Isn’t this what we planned for, all those years?
My own daughter went off to college this morning. As in, drove herself. I knew she was packing, because it looked like a tornado hit the entire basement, and I think I heard her step on a quilting tack sometime in the middle of the night. But I never did cross paths with her.
I sent her a text at 6:30 in the morning, as I was headed to school. Where are you?
Taking care of things.
(I assume that involved, I don’t know… last-minute pancake breakfasts with her friends, or some such thing.)
I need to go to work. Your SSN is on your bed.
We’re warm and fuzzy like that. Besides, her dad was here to see her off.
I’m not totally heartless.
After school today, there was scrap of paper on the seat of my van. I almost didn’t read it, because I thought it was just one of those bits of litter that show up periodically in a family vehicle, blow around for a couple of weeks, and eventually disintegrate into the carpet.
My son pointed out that something was written on it.
She must have stopped in on her way out of town to leave me a note. It was a strange feeling. That deliberate shift I felt myself make, the moment I read it. An instant shift away from feeling anything that made those other women spend an entire car trip crying. It was like cradling a sprained elbow. If you don’t use it or bump it, you don’t feel the pain. Much.
I didn’t see that coming.