I was recently reminded of this statement when my two youngest children officially left home on the same day for college. One of them decided to surround themselves with the nature of the northwest coastline. The other headed directly for the bright lights of Hollywood.
I did everything I could to prepare for this moment. I worked from home and built a business so I could drop them off at school and pick them up everyday. I made sure to attend every possible field trip or event. I was a raving fan of every sport, activity or competition they were in.
All of the preparation could not prepare me for the day they both went away to college. Trying to pretend it is not real. Trying to help them get packed but in some ways.
Transition is the one thing we can’t experience before we experience it. There is not escaping the effect, the clutch, the lump in our throat or the tears that want to flow.
The other thing I have learned is that is does not get easy. After the first 3 left went into the world on their own, you would think we would be experts as parents. But nope!
I could have asked 1000 parents how it felt to go through their children leaving home. I could have asked them how they dealt with it. How they avoided breaking down in tears as they drove away. How they dealt with the fear of not being able to make sure nothing bad happens to their precious baby now all grown up.
The real deal is real. There is now way to experience the experience before the experience. There were a few moments where I thought to myself I have nothing to be worries about. One of the instances was when an older, Dottie, asked my son where he was going to college. To his response she mentioned she had attended school there a long time ago. My son Salih said “I sure that was not that long ago at all.” She made another comment and he said, “no, I think I saw you walking out as I was walking in young lady.” She smiled. I smiled, but I almost shed a tear. Here was my son, sharing a flattering comment on the fly. Why? Because my son is me but better in so many ways.
I call my daughter after we dropped her off at her college. I could not be there since her and her bother decided to move on the same day. I got the boy and my ex wife got the girl. So I call her. Anxiety is building as the phone is ringing. I just want to know she is in her dorm room safely and happy. She picks up and there is….LAUGHTER! The laughter goes on for about 20 seconds then she says, “hey dad!” I can tell she is smiling. I can tell she is happy. They are having a blast. Hours later through her Snap chat I see her hiking through the woods with her new besties. All that worry and my kids are fine. But the transition felt like hell.
So I had to go through it. I guess I am in a new club now. A club of parents who went from their kids being there every moment to an empty house. You all deserve a round of applause. I know we act tough like we can’t wait to be alone. Kids, if I may sound like the father from ‘How I met your mother’, kids one thing you should now is that we are scared even when we are smiling as you are leaving.
The reality is that when it is all said and done all we can do as parents is give our kids the best we have. Children will grow up and make millions of decisions. Most of which we actually will not be there at the time they make the decision. Truly the little moments we spend with them as they grow matter. Every dinner together, every family brunch, holiday morning, or road trip all adds up! It means everything. One of my friend, Anas, always says, “the world lasts but an hour.” How I wish I could have those hours back. They are gone. I am glad so many where well spent.