My girl has long finished her stints at both university and college, and has worked as an advertising copywriter at an agency for several years now. But I will never forget that turning point in our lives—her transition from my high school baby girl to my college big girl.
Just like that, I was no longer required to meet with her teachers, attend functions at her school, be on top of the day-to-day minutiae of her life. All of it came to an abrupt standstill on the late August afternoon that we dropped her and all her worldly possessions off at the two-hours-away campus dorm where she would live for the next few years.
I was still waving goodbye through the back window of the car as she dwindled to nothing more than a wide grin in the distance. I’d been anticipating my first taste of that glorious newfound freedom that’s part and parcel with being an empty nester, so it came as a huge surprise to find myself bursting into tears the moment my girl was completely out of sight. Mind you, my grief didn’t last long, but I know now that those tears were my final acknowledgement of our rite of passage from roots to wings.
With that said, here’s a glimpse of the college experience through a mom’s eyes.
Two years have passed quicker than a sigh since my baby girl left home to embrace campus life. The fact that she found it so effortless to sever what was left of the umbilical cord between us speaks volumes about my child-rearing skills. As they say, “It’s your job to give them roots and wings.” I know I’ve accomplished that task. The real hardship has been with growing wings of my own.
She doesn’t call as often as I’d like her to, caught up as she is in her exciting whirlwind of a life, so when the phone rings and I hear her voice chirping from the answering machine, I toss aside my newspaper, leap from my wing chair and scramble to reach the phone before she hangs up.
I greet her with laughter in my voice. It always happens like this: a cascade of questions flood my mind, surging dangerously like a tsunami toward my lips. I struggle to keep the dam barricaded. If I slip and my questions break free, I know she will fly quickly above the tide and recede with it back to her perch on the other side of the ocean that separates us.
Instead, I try my best to spin interesting stories about an uninteresting week. I hope this will be enough to keep her on my side of the ocean for now. In return, she spins stories of her own, feeding me safe snippets of a life that, I have no doubt, is far more exciting than I’d ever care to know.
We laugh together as she relates a lecture hall incident. Since I’ve been a pretty cool cat so far—no gifts of unsolicited advice to ruffle any feathers—the olive branch she extends is my reward. She tells me about a boy. A boy with soft, brown eyes and a talent for clever banter. He makes her laugh.
Oh my. How the dam ruptures!
I need to know: his name…first and last…the color of his hair…his career aspirations…his family pedigree. Soft, brown eyes and a great sense of humor is simply not enough to keep the tsunami in check.
I can almost hear the squeak of her eyes as they roll in their sockets. I’ve blown it. There is nothing more to tell. He’s just a boy.
The phone lines bulge and ripple with hurried exchanges of I Miss You. I Love You.
We disconnect and fly back to our separate shorelines.