My first bird has left the nest. That's one down, four to go. Apparently I’ve only just begun to say goodbye.
I've been stopped more than once by the concerned friend asking how I'm doing. And while I honestly admit I shed my fair share of tears leaving my oldest at a college over 250 miles away - here is some good news mothers of younger children - it was less heart wrenching than I had imagined.
It helps that I feel confident she is in a safe place where she is known and happy. That combined with her self-confidence, common sense and maturity means I can look forward to the life she will build from the foundation we've given her. Nonetheless, I’m not going to lie; giving her wings was an act sheer will.
Back at home we're all going through the withdrawals of losing a member of our household. I miss her when we eat her favorite dinner or sometimes I forget and look out the window wondering what time she'll be home. I even hollered up the stairs yesterday when I thought she had overslept only to remember she doesn’t live here anymore.
Clearly it is taking this mamma bear time to readjust how many cubs are in our pack.
That being said, some things about moving her out have been delightful.
For starters we have a little more elbowroom. The boys, who have bunked their entire lives, are now living separately. In fact, I think her brother moved into her room before she even had all her stuff unpacked on campus. And, bonus! Now the brothers are getting along wonderfully. It's as if the breathing room made each other a bit more tolerable.
And not only do the two boys get along better with each other, the older of the two has taken a newfound, big brotherly interest in his little sisters. I've caught him helping, encouraging and talking kindly to his siblings.
Ladies and gentleman this is miraculous.
Turns out Mr. I'm-Too-Cool-For-You has a warm, nurturing spirit apparently born out of the depths of his new room.
Which is still pink by the way. I told him he could move into her room but only until big sister returns. Then she gets her room back. I mean I wouldn't want to give her the impression she’s not welcomed here anymore.
Secondly, and I'm sort of embarrassed to admit this, but there are some other surprising perks to moving my daughter to college. You see I had no idea how much I was sharing with her until she was gone. Now, my stuff is right where I left it. My razor doesn't turn up missing. The shampoo bottle lasts three times as long. My concealer is in my makeup bag, not mysteriously appearing in hers. No one drinks the last cup of coffee and not one single wet towel has been left on the floor since she’s been gone. In addition, her hair isn't clogging up the drains or the vacuum and most impressively, our water bill has gone down.
Listen I love my kid. I prefer her company to any other teenager. I think she's cool and gorgeous and I'm quite proud of the amazing young woman she is shaping into but each and every morning that I go into the bathroom or grab a cup of coffee, I feel a newfound surge of gratitude.
A part of my heart may have moved to Indiana but my stuff is staying put in my little house in Illinois. And after eighteen years of solid sacrifice and putting her needs before mine I can hardly explain to you how that little, bitty change brings me joy.
Well, that is until my youngest daughters – twins - become teenagers. Then I'll be right back where I started, except times two. Perhaps I should start stocking up on razors now. Why? Because I’m the mom and I said so! That’s why!
This article appears in the 9/7/13 edition of The Review Atlas as a part of my weekly Practical Parenting series. (read some back articles on their site or I've got them all organized here). Stephanie is a parent educator for Monmouth-Roseville school district. Her only dream in life is to have a master bath. With a lock. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for comments or early education services.
Q. Am I the only one? Have you moved a kid out? What did you find were the benefits?