For one joyous week during the month of March, college students across the country happily board buses, planes, trains, and cars, full of anticipation at the thought of spending every moment of their seven-day spring break with their
Their mothers and fathers will wait anxiously for their arrival, listening for the familiar sound of their offspring's footsteps walking through the front door. They will throw their arms around their cherubs, weeping tears of joy, only to have said cherubs throw their bags down, grab some food, respond to a text, and run straight back out the door.
"It won't be that way with my Melissa," I firmly declare to a friend with a son in college.
She gives me a stare. A poor, pitiful stare. A stare that women reserve for friends who are truly delusional.
"No seriously," I say, trying to convince myself. "Melissa and I are so close, she'll want to spend her break with me."
My friend replies with a laugh. A mirthless laugh.
"You'll see," she says.
Although I hate to entertain the notion, I have to admit she's probably right.
While I have approached each milestone of Melissa's senior year in high school with a sense of melancholy, my daughter has approached each milestone with a mixture of relief and delight. Still to come are her senior class trip to Disney World, the Senior Prom, and then, of course, graduation (sob) day.
We'll spend the summer shopping for new sheets, towels, and toiletries to transform a tiny dorm into Melissa's new home. We'll stress. We'll argue. We'll laugh. We'll hug. We'll probably throw a tantrum or two as I try in vain to hold on to her childhood while she moves ever so closer to independence.
Come August, my husband Bob and I will pack up the car. We'll drive to American University in Washington, D.C. We'll help unload. We'll help set up. We'll make sure she has money. We'll make sure she has food. We'll make small talk. We'll linger. We'll hug. We'll hold back our tears.
We'll wave goodbye, thinking about the baby we held in our arms, the sweetheart we taught to ride a bike, the homework assignments and sleepover parties, chorus concerts, and high school musicals.
We'll get in the car and drive back to an empty house. We'll be overcome with sorrow and overflowing with joy, content in the knowledge that our daughter is about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.
For despite the sadness, despite the tears, despite the emptiness, we'll know…we'll truly know, that we did good.
And we'll hold onto the hope, that small slimmer of hope, that when she comes home for break, she'll want to spend it with us!
Lisa Weinstein is a South Jersey mom who blogs about parenting a teen, coping with middle age and celebrating nearly two decades of marriage. This post was adapted from her blog, The Mixed Up Brains of Lisa Weinstein.