I don’t ever remember being that little girl who envisions her wedding. I don’t remember setting any particular expectations of parenthood, or thinking about what my first house might look like.
There is one little daydream I have long entertained, though, without really ever thinking about it: that of our kids going to the same university their dad and I were attending when we started dating.
Since the boys were little, we’ve been taking the six-hour drive North to Moscow, Idaho, for a football game every fall as often as possible. There were years we couldn’t make the time, or waited too long to get a hotel room, but there was a while when we made it a regular habit.
We joked about indoctrinating our kids as future Vandals. We bought all the swag, we took tours through living groups, we showed them where we’d lived and hung out. They dug it. And who wouldn’t? The Palouse is ridiculously gorgeous in the fall when we would visit, and the 130 year-old campus is the picture of time-honored tradition, with cobblestone lanes weaving through stately brick buildings. I’m sure most of it doesn’t look much different from when my grandparents attended in the 1920s.
Earlier this week, I was lying in bed, at o’dark something-or-other, trying to clear my head.
“You’re awake aren’t you?” Mike said.
Yup. We haven’t been getting a lot of sleep around here.
We went out to the living room and Jack was there, on the couch with a quilt, scrolling through his phone. He’d been up all night cleaning and sorting, and now his room was too empty to sleep in.
Today, he took his 50 lb. suitcase, a file of instructions and itineraries, 200 potato pins, and a book about his life in Idaho we’d made for him to show his host families while he’s on exchange, and boarded a plane. We’ll next see him again in person in eleven months.
People have been asking us how we’re dealing with his departure, and for the most part I’ve been Scarlett O’Hara-ing the whole thing, saying that I’d think about that tomorrow.
Well, today is “tomorrow,” and I’m still not actually sure what I’m thinking.
Last week’s list of how to annoy teenagers without even trying was something I almost didn’t publish out of guilt.
My kids are okay people, and by that I mean they give us way less trouble than people want to believe of teenagers. I also mean they inspire a whole bunch of gooshy, happy feelings the expression of which would get me kicked out of the snarky parents club.
I didn’t expect that of parenting. What I expected was to be at a point by now where I was counting the days until our oldest was leaving.
When I was on a business trip in December, there was a woman who got really gloomy toward the end of the week. She didn’t want to leave because she’d be returning to a home recently absented by her grown daughter.
I may have lacked the appropriate amount of empty-nester empathy.