After the college Drop off (part two)

Sunday, November 20, 2016
On the way home, We drove to Shana's house again for a night.  We really enjoyed the time with them. Kate rode one of their horses and she loved it. Shana's husband, Michael was so kind and patient working with her (and it was 100 degrees out!).

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The drive home was easy but the first month without Will was hard.  REALLY HARD.  See, for reasons I won't go into here...I have made a really conscious effort to build a close family. Aside from having a relationship with God, it has been my number one priority. I know it may not be chic to say this but being a good wife and mother are the most important things to me in this life.  I wanted to give my children unconditional love, healthy boundaries, a faith filled home, values and traditions.   I try every single day to have meaningful connections with each one of my children. I have been intentionally working at this since the day they were born. Honestly, there is nothing that comes before the five people in my house (except God).

So, after working for 19 years to connect with Will, it was hard to disconnect.  Will is a really good kid (all of my kids are) and these last two years of high school, he matured a lot.  He did not need the rules and the discipline of parenting.  He came to me for advice and just to talk.  Almost every night, he would sit in my room and we would talk.  I knew all of his friends and his teachers. He would tell me funny stories about things that happened in class or at water polo practice.  Even though he was gone a lot (he was super social and involved in high school), I always knew where he was and what he was doing.

And then all of a sudden, I didn't.  I had no idea who his friends were.  I did not know anything about his classes or activities.  We did not talk everyday.  Will was busy making new friends and figuring out the campus and clubs and his classes.  He was immersing himself in college life (as he should have been).  And me, well I felt lonely.  I missed our daily talks. I did not get sad when I saw his empty bedroom or place at the dinner table.  I could handle not seeing him physically.  It was the connection I missed. The connection that I worked tirelessly to build for the last 19 years.

That first month or two, Will was very busy and I don't think he gave much thought to us at home. And that is okay.  In fact, it is good. It means we have done our job.  We raised him to be independent. This is what we hoped he would do at this point in life.  It still hurt though.

I cried.  I cried often around 10 o clock every night because that is when we used to talk.  I teared up when I watched The Office on Netflix because he is the one that got me hooked on it and we used to talk about it all the time.  I missed my son.  I missed our friendship. It was very difficult and I felt weak and almost embarrassed that I missed him so much.  After all, I had my career and volunteer work and friends and my husband and other two children to occupy my time and bring me joy.  But, I was somewhat depressed. I even told myself that if it did not better, I would go talk to a counselor.

For as long as I can remember, Will used to ask me every single day how my day was but in September and part of October, no one asked.  Dave and Harry and Kate are thoughtful and kind but Will was the one who asked me every single day how my day was.  Boy, did I miss that.

We had an agreement that we would talk every Sunday and for the first 6 weeks that is mostly when we communicated.  It was not enough for me but I did not want to be a nagging Mom. I did not want to guilt him into talking to me. But I did send him texts from time to time.

Then one day, Will started calling more and texting more.  He started texting and asking "How was your day, Mom?"(Dave may have prompted him to do this). I started asking him to tell me all about his new friends.  He started telling me about all of his professors and classes.  I made a bitmoji (with Harry's help) that is totally obnoxious and silly but I send him bitmojis to make him laugh. I think mostly he laughs AT me but that is okay too.  He sends me pictures now when he and his friends go do fun things.  So, now I know what they all look like and a little about them. They seem like great people.

We don't talk or text every single day but our close and frequent communication is back and that is the hallmark of our relationship.  Will is my talker and it was so hard not having that communication with him in the beginning. I missed it more than I can express.

My relationship with each of my children is unique and special so I am sure that my adjustments and what I will miss will be different as each child leaves the nest and depending on how far they fly.  But I wanted to put this experience out there for others who are going through this or will soon. And honestly, I had no idea how I would feel so this all caught me by surprise.  I don't think we can ever know what it will be like until we go through it.  But I want people to know that if it is really hard, you are not alone.

I am so proud of Will.  When he registered for his dorm, he joined a living learning community (LLC) for Outdoor Leadership.  Will only became "outdoorsy" in the last few years but choosing this LLC was so good for him. He was placed on a floor with other kids in Outdoor Leadership and they became fast friends.  He has found a group of kids in Ohio who seem to have the same values and interests as he does.  He is thriving.  I could not be more proud of how he has adjusted to college life. There have been some bumps in the road and I am sure there will be more.  But he goes to Mass. He washes his sheets. He has gotten involved and made friends.  He gets along with his roommate.  He works part time. He doesn't skip his classes.  This Mama is happy.

And I get to see him Tuesday night.  I have not seen him in 3 months.  I cannot wait to have the whole family under one roof for a few days!


Here are some photos of his first semester at school....

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He went white water rafting in TN as part of his Outdoor Leadership seminar.  He loved it.

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One of the football games.  Harry was visiting that weekend!

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He and his friends go to a lot of the hockey games.  They love them!


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This was a party for the campus fashion magazine and some of Will's friends model/write for it.

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Canoeing in Indiana for Outdoor Leadership with his roommate, Will.

As you can see, he is happy.  And I am happy.

Happy Thanksgiving!

16 comments:

  1. Thank you for your honest post. My best friend just sent her son to college this year too. I know she can relate to all of what you felt too. Her son is thriving as well. He doesn't do his laundry though...lots of febreze.
    Enjoy having Will home!!

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    1. Thanks Kathleen. This was a hard one to write.

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  2. Kim, as you know I've been following along on this new season in your life on the blog and IG. Although my son is quite a bit older than Will (42! - how did that happen) I still experience the loss of him in my daily life, just not as intense as it used to be. He's been married now for almost 18 years but no matter how old he gets, he's still my little boy. I'm so proud of the man he has turned out to be, such a good father and wonderful husband. We talk weekly and text every Saturday night during Auburn football. He's very successful in his work but stays very busy with his job. However, there are times he just calls me out of the blue just to talk and those are precious times to me. I guess I'm saying that although Will is out of the nest now and things have changed significantly as far as his physical presence goes, he will always be in your heart (old saying but true) and you in his. You have built a wonderful relationship with him as your son but as your friend too. I imagine he respects you and your opinion over just about anyone.

    I also wanted to say that Kate looks very natural on that horse....maybe riding lessons are in her future.

    Happy Thanksgiving Kim!

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    1. I love hearing about your evolving relationship with your son, Judy. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. I know he respects my advice as he tells me often. I am so thankful for the close relationship we have. Happy Thanksgiving to you all too.

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  3. I understand all of those feelings, beautifully written,

    Hugs,
    Robin

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  4. Going from knowing everything to not knowing anything was a really hard transition. My son is in his second year and it is so much better. We text frequently, much more than talk on the phone. I'm ok with that. He is home this week and my mama heart is so happy to have him back at home. Enjoy your week with a full house. :D

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    1. Enjoy your week. So nice when they come home!
      It already is tons better with Will. I think he needed that time to establish a life there. It's all good.

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing. I find this so inspirational as I strive to have a close relationship with Tate. I have joked that I cannot wait until Tate is in college although she is only 8. This single mom needs a break.

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    1. Lisa, I am sure you do need a break. I cannot imagine. Hugs. Having a close relationship is a constant journey. It's not like you get one and then its done. I have had times when it vacillates with all 3 kids but it is my goal every day to make what we have better and/or maintain. I am sure you do and will have this with Tate,

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  6. A while ago I read a quote on grief and loss that I think applies. To paraphrase.... The hardest part of grief is figuring out what to do with your time. Sending you a big hug, my friend! And so exited you get to hug your boy in just hours now!!

    Oh but I giggled out loud at "he washes his sheets." Your momma heart is too sweet!

    XOKK

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    1. PPC,
      Thank you for that quote and I thought that a bunch but honestly my time was occupied, it was a part of my mind and heart that were lost for a few weeks. That part was confusing. Although the busier I was some days, the less I could focus on the grief for sure.
      I heard so many stories of kids who don't wash their sheets all semester and that is so gross. I was honestly quite surprised that Will washes his weekly. he has taken quite well to this "adulting."

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  7. Thank you for posting this. I too had my oldest, a daughter, go off to college this fall. This is exactly my feelings. I could have written this myself! I dreaded her leaving because I didn't know how I was going to react/feel. The entire senior year was filled with so many emotions. She is happy and thriving but I miss my girl/my friend and just being involved with her life. There ought to be a "class" for moms. It is too much to ask for us to pour our hearts and souls into these beautiful creatures for 18 years and then...nothing. It just stops. It is hard and confusing and I felt like a brand new mom of a newborn almost. Enjoy your family time and Happy Thanksgiving!

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    1. Oh my gosh...you get it. I made the newborn analogy to a friend who is still many years away from this and she looked at me strangely. I know exactly what you mean...it is brand new territory and we aren't sure how to navigate it. Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for your comment.

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  8. Kim, I've been reading since you got your referral. You are such a ray of sunshine in the internet world, and I so appreciate your openness. Through the time I've been reading about your family, I've gotten married, started a family, worked on both my and my husband's careers, and learned a lot along the way. Do you mentor women? Or will you at least write a book? :)

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment. I do marriage, parenting and life coaching in my office part time. And I would LOVE to write a book.. My real dream though is to host a call in radio show like a compassionate and kind version of Dr. Laura;) there are just so many hours in the day. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Thank you for your kindness.