My Heart’s in Two Places: Countdown to College drop-off – One year later

I know for many of you this time of the year is full of firsts and lasts.  It is an exciting time full of check-lists and shopping trips to Target picking out their 100th ruler and twin XL sheets for their dorm room. At the same time, when you let your heart and mind be still with each other long enough, there is a wave of sadness that the years passed you by so quickly – we were warned of this from the time they were placed in our arms, but we didn’t believe it.

Since seeing Miss Bee off to college last fall I can look back and say it was different dropping her off than I thought it would be.  First, you’re exhausted and dripping with sweat from the dozens of visits to and from your car to unload all the stuff your child is confident will fit in their tiny room. I remember thinking several days later after the realization she wasn’t away at camp, our “party of three” wasn’t the same. I felt this need to get a text from her every night before bed so I knew she was okay and at first she induldged me, but after the first week those texts stopped.  I didn’t protest.  I had to trust that God was taking care of her. That all the conversations we had about safety and following your instincts would kick in. I had to put pictures in my head of ponies, rainbows and friends that loved her as much as her parents do.

As the months moved ahead I found I actually enjoyed coming home to a quiet space where I didn’t have to cook dinner, ask about homework, or drive her anywhere for glue or tennis practice. I enjoyed the company of my husband.  If we wanted to skip dinner and just eat cereal we could. If we wanted to go to a weeknight movie we would. It was funny the first time she came home during Christmas she was totally perplexed that we had no snack food in the pantry, just enough food for the two of us in the fridge, and no meals planned. It blew her mind.

What I did observe during her visits home, which even though she attends school 15 minutes from our home we didn’t see her much at all, was a woman.  Full of ideas and new knowledge she was taking in from her classes. We had wonderful philosophical conversations at the table about the world we live in.  This summer we enjoyed going to movies, cooking dinner together and laughing.  This past year gave us “space” to find ourselves separate from our threesome.  Miss Bee still sees us as her parents, but we’ve moved more into an advisory role versus managers.  This past year has been full of trusting moments.  Dr. Benjamin Spock said it best, “Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.” And with a little faith, so do your children.

I thought you might like to see my post from last year – our countdown to drop off.  God bless you in your new journey, whatever that might be.

August 8, 2018

Today is the day.  A day I have been prepping myself for since she said “yes” to going to college.  Full disclosure:  Miss Bee is going to college 15 minutes from home and also where I have worked for the past 21 years.  I can’t even imagine what it would be like if I were dropping her off hundreds of miles away.

But, this is my story.  For the past 18 years, my first thought of each new day has been her and the day we have ahead together.  My last thought at night, as my head hits the pillow and I drift off to sleep, has been of her and thanking God for the day He gave us.  We now will have new rituals and routines as I wake up in a house without her presence.

The way I have been approaching this day is similar to how I felt when I dropped her off for the first day of Kindergarten.  I am excited for her because she is ready for a shiny, new experience.  She is so pretty and has carefully shopped for new school clothes, books and dorm room decor.  And while all of that fills me with joy and excitement, the part pulling at my heart is leaving her to fend for herself.  Will she make friends, will people see how special she is, will she feel safe and treasured the way I have been trying to make her feel for 18 years?  What if she needs me and I am not there?  Like I did for Kindergarten drop-off, I’ll grab my muffin with other moms, smile, then go home.  I hope to choose happy. But, likely I will go home, stare into space, gaze into her empty room and cry.  Happy tears.

Follow me along today for an on-line journal of how the day progresses.  I’ll try to post at different times and let you know what and how we are doing.

We will start with yesterday…

Tuesday, August 7:

2 p.m.  Miss Bee texts:  “I want my last meal at (insert our address) to be Daddy’s homemade pizza.”  I responded with crying emojis.

6:30 p.m. Miss Bee wanted to see the movie Christopher Robin.    The very first movie I ever took her to see as Winnie the Pooh’s Springtime with Roo.  She was two. I cried then.  I cried again now.

9 p.m. She’s packing everything in the van for move-in tomorrow.

1 a.m.  Miss crawls into bed with me and sleeps.  We don’t spoon.  But I smell her and hear her breathing.  It’s like when she was little.

Wednesday, August 8:

6:40 a.m. Alarm goes off.  I kiss my baby and whisper in her ear I love her.

6:45 a.m. I bake her favorite coffee cake — I rename it “Off to College Coffee Cake.”

8:10 a.m. I kiss her goodbye and tell her I will meet her at 1 p.m. for move-in.

9 a.m. I write her a card to leave on her pillow after move her in…

“Wow!!  What an amazing, joyful journey watching you grow into the young woman you are today.  I admire your tender heart, your quick wit, your self discipline, your love for your family, friends and God, and your ability to see the best parts of all kinds of people.

I know it’s been a challenge to feel like you belong when everything is new.  But, if you are always true to yourself and you believe in yourself you will be just fine.

Being your mother has been the best thing I’ve ever done in life!  You make me laugh everyday.  Now, my heart is in two places — with you and at home.  You are never alone.  There is nothing we can’t solve together.  Life is not intended to be a solo experience.  I love you dearly.  You are going to soar! Momma”

9:29 a.m. Co-worker gives me a beautiful succulent arrangement and a card.  I cry.

11 a.m. My friend and personal trainer, Jess, stops by to tell me I am amazing and what an important person I am in her life and gifts me with the cutest flip flops that say Queen Bee.  I accept her compliments, and cry some more.

2:05 p.m.  Miss Bee was planning on checking in at 1 p.m.  Apparently she had more stuff she packed in Mr. Bee’s pickup so now we have two cars full of stuff.  Was supposed to meet me at my office, have a sandwich then walk over to check in to get her key card.  Instead, she and her dad went over without me.  I’m okay.  I’m happy in my air conditioned office right now. This plan saves her the embarrassment of me wanting to take selfies and tell everyone I know she’s my daughter.

2:26 p.m.  I get to eat my sandwich in her dorm room!  We are taking a load of stuff over now.  I’ll get pictures and share them on facebook. (Looking back.on this was highly ambitious).

3:30 p.m. Cancel the tuna sandwich. It’s locked in Mr. Bee’s truck. Of all days, he doesn’t have his phone with him. It’s hot. Why did I wear jeans? I’m in her room unpacking things. The heat was on. Did I say it was hot?

4:18 p.m.  I’m eating my sandwich. I don’t care if it’s rancid. Things are looking up now. Rearranging furniture. Miss Bee scolded me for making friends with her RA Olivia…and for offering an open invitation to our house anytime they want. I can’t help it.  I’m so hot. Maybe it’s a blessing so I won’t cry when I leave.

4:38 p.m. Okay, I think we’ve turned a corner. I rigged a fan up from my office so I think the temp might be dropping to 92 in here. Getting ready to make her bed.  Feeling good. No tears.

5:14 p.m. it’s still hot. I think with 700 people moving into the dorm all at once has shocked the system. Right now Miss Bee is applying faux marble peel and stick contact paper to her desk top. It looks super chic. I’m on her bed.  I was going to get out of their way and sit outside her room, but she insisted I stay on the bed. Positive gesture.  I think God makes you dislike moving in so you won’t focus on the end.

5:33 p.m. I think it’s starting to cool down, or maybe my brain is liquid and I don’t feel it.  Everything is put together and in its place. We are now hanging stuff on the walls.  Her theme is Boho chic. She purchased a gorgeous tapestry for wall behind her bed.  Crisp white linens and pillows on the bed.  I think I’ll get some fresh flowers for her desk.

She told me I could put anything I wanted to on the lightbox. She hung it up next to her bed.

6:45 p.m. We are exhausted. So we are seeking cool air, chips and salsa to build up our strength.  Then, it’s to Target for a few things and back for phase two.

6:55 p.m. This morning when I woke up I wondered if Mother would make her usual appearance on days like today (she appears as a cardinal).  On the way to the car, I heard her in the distance and suddenly she appeared right above us in the trees, singing the most beautiful song to Miss Bee.  It was a sign.  She will be fine…Mother’s got this.

7:45 p.m. At Target.  Asked Miss Bee if she wanted to pick out some flowers.  She said only if there were sunflowers – my daddy’s favorite flower.  They didn’t, but I made a mental note to find some for her this weekend.  I don’t have to look very far.  We have a whole bunch of them growing in the flower bed in our front yard.  The summer after Daddy died, sunflowers started growing everywhere and to this day, every summer, we see him in our garden.  This was his own doing, as we never planted any seeds.

8:30 p.m. We are back home packing up little things and a BIG fat fan for her room.  Lordy, I hope it’s cooler in her dorm room by the time Miss Bee makes it back there or she is quitting school.  I am going to say my goodbyes here at home.  I think the last little bit of time should be with her Daddy putting together a rolling cart.

I am really okay.  Better than I thought I would be.  I have spent the last 18 years preparing her for this very moment.  When God blessed me with a child after years of losses, I promised Him I would put my heart and soul into raising a woman He would be proud of.  With God’s help, Mr. Bee and I have met that goal ten-fold.  She’s ready.  I’m ready.  It’s time.

There’s a quote I love from Nanny McPhee…

“There is something you should understand about the way I work. When you need me but do not want me, then I must stay. When you want me but no longer need me, then I have to go.”

One last thing before she left was to say, “Can we have breakfast together in the morning, Momma?”  Yes, my darling girl.  Always.

8:39 p.m.  The End.

6 thoughts on “My Heart’s in Two Places: Countdown to College drop-off – One year later”

  1. Totally agree that moving makes you so hot and tired it’s hard to have any liquid in your body for years. Hang in there momma.

  2. Oh Melissa! I am sending you a virtual hug! As it was not God’s plan to bless me with children, I live vicariously through those that were lucky enough to be so blessed. I am crying with you today. I know your beautiful daughter is very much like her mom, so I know she will be a huge success in whatever she does! Hang in there!

  3. This makes my heart go “thump, thump”…..Phoebe is a precious soul and so are you. Enjoy this amazing adventure!

  4. Oh my, this made me cry. I well remember the drop-offs at McMurry, TCU x’s 2, Texas Tech. When I look back on the pictures of my sons from those days I’m shocked at how young they looked! And we dropped them off and drove back to El Paso! The two TCU drop offs were the hardest I think. I feel every angst and joy you are feeling right now. Kahlil Gibran writes beautifully about “letting go”. He says our children must be living arrows we shot into the future where we cannot go. Good job, mom and dad, for giving Miss Phoebe wings.

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