It’s that time of year when parents drop kids off at college campuses all over the country. Decorating dorms and apartments, packing refrigerators, buying books, and saying a tearful goodbye.
A bittersweet rite of passage.
Last week, we helped our youngest move into his new apartment in a new city for his post-undergraduate three-year grind of attending law school. We were busy all weekend, cramming in last-minute errands and trying to make sure he was settled before my husband and I left for home. But with boxes unpacked, furniture arranged, and a full fridge, there was nothing left to do but say goodbye.
With a heavy heart, I hugged my son tight, a mix of joy and sorrow flowing between the two of us. “I love you, Con.” “I love you too, Ma.”
When we dropped him off for his freshman year of college, I erupted into tears, not even a mile off campus, unable to contain my emotions. I cried for the first four hours of the ten-hour drive. No exaggeration. At this milestone, my eyes welled up with tears fueled by pride and just a bit of sadness.
After about an hour into the drive tears started to fall and my husband shot a concerned look over from the driver’s seat, asking, “What’s wrong?” I was listening to a podcast that ended with a Rumi quote. “It’s your road, and yours alone, others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.” That hit me. I managed to choke out that I was overwhelmingly proud and happy for our son, yet saddened by the prospect of saying goodbye … once again. He agreed, reflecting the same emotions I felt, confessing to a few tears earlier in the weekend during the swearing-in ceremony for all 1L students.
What a difference a few years makes. It’s been almost a week, and I’m not sad but feeling enthusiastic about the years to come for my son and myself. My house is empty, my heart is full, and I’m ready for this next path to begin.
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