My two older daughters left for BYU this morning. After they drove away and I was crying, my twelve-year-old son said, "It's not that sad! They'll be home for Christmas." I said, "It's a mother thing." He said, "Good thing I'll never be a mother." I'm sure my daughters weren't crying either, unless it was tears of joy at being able to quit their two summer jobs and head back to school. They were very blessed to find great summer jobs this year, but let's face it--even great summer jobs tend to be boring, as well as good motivation to get your rear back to school and get studying.
It's always poignant when a child leaves for college, but last year when my younger daughter started her freshman year, I learned that the mother-pain of saying goodbye to children is cumulative. This is in contrast to the difficulty level in raising children, which I didn't find to be cumulative--i.e., having five children is not five times as hard as having one; each new Wild Thing adds incrementally to the rumpus. But I've found that saying goodbye to two children is twice as hard--or harder--than saying goodbye to one. Not only do you have two children to miss, but it provokes more of a Ticking Clock personal crisis--they're growing up so quickly, it won't be long before they've flown from the nest for good, the family size has now shrunk dramatically, your other children are growing up so fast as well . . . Last year when my college daughters went back to school after Thanksgiving, I was saddened by the realization that it was only eleven years until all our children were grown. Eleven years used to seem like a long time, but man, it sure didn't anymore. Of course, I was rather off-balance at the time, since they'd left us with a cat, which might explain the mental melodrama. As they went to pull out of the driveway this morning, I said, "You forgot the cat!" but it didn't work; they left her here. Actually, I'm accustomed to the cat now and quite fond of her, even if she is rather contemptuous of us and a suspected demon to boot.
When the kids were young, it seemed like life would be that way forever. Even the thought of having them all in school during the day was remote--it would be ages before they were all that old. Ages and eons! But nobody told me that time accelerates. No, seriously, it does. You're in baby mode, toddler mode, preschool mode; time is making its leisurely way through your life. Then elementary school, and junior high, and high school and . . . BAM. As soon as one kid graduates, that's it--life starts shooting forward like you're on the downward slope of a rollercoaster.
I absolutely love having older kids; it's a tremendous joy watching them grow and mature and develop into adults. But as a mother, I can't help but be sad when they drive away and wish I could keep them with me a little longer--even as I'm happy for them, extremely grateful for the opportunities they'll have at school, and definitely wouldn't have it any other way.
So now, it's time to go get ready to take my older son to school registration. He's turning sixteen soon . . .