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I dropped my son off for his first day of college today. I have some thoughts.
When you were little, we were walking down the street and you said that you were going to live at home forever. I laughed and said no, you’ll go away to college and then get a job and your own apartment.
Your eyes welled up and you said you were never leaving.
And I sighed, thinking about the far-off day when you would finally leave.
I was tired. You were in kindergarten, and your sister was a toddler. The two of you took all of my time and energy. You exhausted me every day with your questions and needs.
You needed to be fed. You needed to be bathed. You needed help in the bathroom. You needed me for so many things, all day, every day.
I was sick of being needed.
And other people said, enjoy this. Some day they won’t need you anymore.
And I thought, I wish that day was tomorrow.
I don’t miss those days. I wouldn’t want to go back to them for anything. The tiny, needy version of you isn’t the version that I want back.
You turned into a person. One that could take care of himself. You got interesting. You text me funny memes. You talk politics with me. We like the same TV shows. That’s the person that I want back.
Time doesn’t quite work anymore. I feel like I only brought you home from the hospital a few days ago. I’m still asking your dad how in the world they let us, two people who didn’t know anything, just take a baby home. I’m still flailing, trying to figure it all out.
And yet, you’ve been in my life forever. I can barely remember what it was like to not have you as my son.
Time is broken.
When you were packing for college I said you needed a fan. You said you didn’t want one. I said you’d be sorry if you didn’t bring one.
You packed the tiniest fan we had in the house, the little USB fan you used to take to sleepaway camp.
I sighed. I knew better, just like I knew better when you were little and you said you didn’t need gloves.
Oh, you also said you didn’t need to pack gloves for college.
When we got to your dorm, it was really hot. Even with the windows open it was oppressively, unbearably hot.
I didn’t say I told you so.
Instead, I ordered a fan for you from Amazon as soon as I got into the car. I couldn’t help it. It will be there on Thursday.
You wouldn’t let us help you unpack. I get it, you wanted to go meet people and explore your new home. But your room looked so bare when we left.
You’re an adult. Your father and I raised an independent, intelligent person. But in the last few days all I could think of was how many things you didn’t know.
I started throwing advice at you and showing you how to do random things, hoping something would stick. I was acting like you were moving to Antarctica and wouldn’t have Google.
You already know the important things. You know how to speak up for yourself. You know how to be kind. You know how privileged you are.
And now you also know how to fold a fitted sheet.
Your dad wants you to call us every week. I want you to call us when you actually want to talk to us.
Do you want to talk to us yet?
Just because I’m crying doesn’t mean I’m not super happy and excited for you.
You’re ready for this. I’m not.