The girls are both at work right now. Their last work week of the summer. Next week, they’re all mine, albeit for just one more. We plan to get our hair done, troll bookstores, watch silly movies, discuss books, and the inevitable fact that school is, literally, just around the corner.
We’re not ready.
I’ll be spending Labor Day hauling boxes and bags, hanging pictures and wiring lamps; picking up boxes of books and stocking refrigerators; driving mile after mile after mile to drop my girls off at their respective schools, and walking out of their buildings, missing them before I’ve left the parking lot.
Kate is a senior this year. We already know the day she will graduate. Two days after she moves in, she’ll receive her tassel at convocation. I had just gotten used to her being a college student, yet here we are, at another precipice, another milestone. The question of when she’ll be attending graduate school is on all of our minds. She’ll be teaching full-time while simultaneously juggling a full-load of classes fall semester.
Amanda is moving in to a single room amongst both male and female roommates. David is not amused. She will continue her research on the variations in parasite abundance between urban and natural populations of anoles. I don’t pretend to understand; I just know she’s doing some pretty cool stuff under the tutelage of one of the university's leading researchers. She’ll have her car on campus this year. She’s decided to pursue a pre-med track and double her workload.
We’re not ready.
As I marvel at all they have accomplished so far, I am very aware of what lies ahead. I have already lived my version of their lives. It’s not easy, but the rewards are well worth the effort. I know this. They know this. But it doesn’t make it any less challenging all the way around.
I dreaded them leaving high school, and now, I’m dreading what comes next. Not because I don’t want them to succeed and move forward with their lives—I want all of that for them and more—it’s just that I have finally found my way. I’ve learned how to live this new existence somewhat fractured by changes that are unavoidably inevitable.
We’ve already given Kate her graduation present. We took a trip last January knowing it might have been one of the last opportunities we’d be able to, as a family. We’re grasping at fragments of time, too precious to be ignored.
I know the reality is not nearly as frightening as the anticipation, of not knowing. I’ve been down this road before. I will ring my hands, make endless lists, repeat myself again and again to make sure the two of them have everything they could ever need. And then they’ll be off on their own once again.
But I’m not ready.