Okay, it is obviously time for me to get a grip. Do you know about flat rate shipping? You stuff as much as you possibly can into a small box white box with red print on it, hoping it will weigh at least $17.90 worth, and mail it anywhere in the U.S. And it’s priority mail so it gets there in two days!
So I can obsess about what my daughter needs at school, pack it into several small boxes, wrestle it closed with enough packing tape so nothing but a small army could open it, and then rush to the nearest post office to wait in line, feeling somehow useful and at peace because I am still taking care of my child from 3000 miles away. I do this with intense focus, as if it were a matter of great urgency, a familiar sense of purpose filling me with energy as I imagine my daughter gratefully opening the box, uttering “Thank God!” as she takes out her kitchen supplies, shoes, or DVD’s I have shipped to her.
In reality she isn’t even at her dorm. Out till 2:30 each morning she is having the time of her life in New York, the very last thing on her mind being that she might need anything from me aside from money. She is seeing Broadway shows, bonding with a million new friends, and loving the excitement of living in the city that never sleeps.
I have to laugh at myself just a little – my packing and shipping like a squirrel finding nuts. I suppose this is predictable. Like the “nesting” instinct you get in the later stages of pregnancy when the morning sickness subsides, filled with energy to create the perfect nest for the new baby. I remember the sweet little room I created for my daughter, with organic cotton baby sheets and onesies, and soothing sage green colors in the color scheme. Now I am a classic “empty nester”. But if another person says those two words to me again I may have to smack them. “Yes, I am experiencing the empty nest”, I say with a polite smile, inside wanting to scream, “Do you really think you’re the first person to suggest this to me!?! Do you think I haven’t had those two words shoved in my face about ten thousand times over the past year!?” And really there are very few people I want to talk to about this, and only if I am in a place where I can cry openly because there has been a lot of that going on. I wish I wouldn’t cry in yoga. It seems to happen most often in Savasana when the room is silent. It must be with all that deep breathing I can’t hold the tears back.
I do appreciate the other parents who are reaching out to me in support, who know what I’m going through and who can relate to the grief. It also helps to know I still have a life, still have some purpose here other than sending my daughter boxes across the country. Like taking tap dancing classes, watering my plants, or holding my youngest nephew in my arms as he sleeps. I also suspect I will have to try on some new identities as I struggle to adjust. Who do I want to be now? Where will I fit in?
If truth be told at this moment I’d like to leave everything behind and start a new life like my daughter has, where I am not known as a mother missing her daughter. I want to hurry up and get over this painful period of grieving the loss of my former life so I can get on with a new one. But there is no way around it. I am sad, and the only way out is to go through it. So here is the new saga – my daughter’s year in college.