Picture this. I am standing on top of a large crate, megaphone in hand, clearing my throat. “Listen to me, I know what I am talking about!” Got it? Good. Let me start off with the fact that no mother can love their son more than I do. The expectations of the first born are always extremely high. You want the best for your child and you are thrilled with every accomplishment along the way. This is no different. I can honestly say, Patrick (oldest son) and I had the best time going to colleges to see if any would be of interest to him to attend. Of course, they all (or most) make it sound so great, who wouldn't want to go there. Quite a few things happened Patrick’s senior year of high school which lead him to a wonderful school about 100 miles away from our home. I loved the idea that it was only an hour and fifty minute drive. Far enough away to be away, but closest enough to come home if necessary.
The time leading up to Patrick going away to school was a not a great memory. There was a ton of tension and I’m sure anxiety on all parts of the family. I truly believe that it made it less “sorrowful” as when we were dropping him off, it felt like it was the right time to do so. Please don’t get me wrong, my heart ached to be dropping off “my baby” at college. Patrick on the other hand seemed to be handling it better (so I thought.) We were saying goodbye in his dorm room, and it hurt to hold back the tears as Patrick kept saying “don’t cry in front of my roommates!” All we said back was “have fun and do good at school.” We got to the car and I remember looking into Patrick’s living room window and thinking, he can’t see me cry - so I was just smiling back, screaming at my husband to pull out of the parking space so I can start crying. Which I did, for the hour and fifty minute drive home. Poor Bill.
That first semester, we would call and Patrick seemed to be happy. Everything seemed to going well, but, as a parent/mother you know your child. I could sense something was going on. I immediately turned to my friends who had college kids. My friends were my support, rock and sounding board. They would tell me things that I was not happy hearing. They would say, “maybe being away is not good for Patrick, maybe he has too many freedoms that are hard for him to handle.“ I then choose to not take their advise because that’s not going to happen to my kid. How many times have you said that? You want the best college experience for your child, and you send them off with the hope that they will go, soar and be involved in school so what horrible things could go wrong. Well, things happen.
After the year was over, we all sat down and realized that it wasn’t as glorious as WE wanted it to be for Patrick. He had made the decision to come home. It was a decision that at first, I felt that I had failed him somehow. What did I do wrong. I had friends who told me they were envious of having my son come home, yet I felt different. It is very difficult having your college son come home and reintroduce him back into the home. He will always be your son but for a year, the house was down to four. Rooms got changed around. It was a total adjustment. The first rule we said is that our home is not a dorm. That went over well….. Second, there are rules in the house, that too, didn’t go over well. I kept going back to what my friends were saying to me months (years) back and asking myself, why didn’t I just listen to them. The pain or confusion would have been easier! Why did I let my pride stand out first instead of understanding arms to reach out to my son? I kept looking at the negative in the situation instead of the positive which was, he made the mature decision to come home, continue college, get a job and help out in the house.
OK, now I get it. I just wish I got it long time ago. It’s OK to be disappointed, have your pity party, but get over it! Don’t let it consume you as it did me. I’m proud of my son and knowing that we’re going to go through this again next year with my other son - somehow I feel a bit more prepared. Ton o’ blessings to ya until next time.
Patrick and I at his high school graduation. Of course, I'm crying.