gratitude-a-thon day 2071: off to college

I remember being pregnant (which only took me three years to accomplish and a total of 12 months of being nauseous) and slowly experiencing the dramatic changes my body was going through. The way my stomach began to protrude, how I kept spilling out of my bras, the heavy exhaustion I would feel and that deep coma like nap I would fall into daily. Oh, and the cravings: McDonald’s french fries, fettuccine alfredo and watermelon.

I think there’s something in there that correlates to sending your child off to college. You shed part of your mommy skin as you drop them at the door of a whole new world in much the same way that you shed your old body when you were carrying, around your child inside you.

Pregnancy both excited and terrified me (it also, did I mention,  made me nauseous, very, very nauseous). On the one hand, I deeply wanted a baby and on the other hand, I had no idea what being a mom might be like, or if I had the capacity to even pull off such a feat. I had no understanding of what I might be giving up in order to make this new person part of my life and yet, I knew I had to, I knew something deep within me desperately and fervently wanted a child.

It’s not that different when you take your child to college that first time. It’s both exciting and terrifying. On the one hand you deeply want your baby to experience this new phase, be able to take this important step toward freedom and adulthood, but at the same time you wonder if they have the capacity to do so. And you also wonder if you have the capacity to do so….

For all you new college parents, for all you first time empty nesters, it’s going to be alright. I got one through and the other is going into her senior year. GRATITUDE! You will cry. You will begin to talk baby talk to your dog. You will wonder why the laundry detergent is lasting so long.

You will have dozens of emotions and they will keep changing, just like your body did when you were carrying around that kid in your womb. The thing I can tell you is that the process keeps changing, too. And you and your child keep changing with it. Just when you get used to one phase, it will morph into another (just like when you got used to being a mom of babies, you were suddenly a mom of toddlers and then pre-schoolers, then…well, you know how it goes).

Be kind to yourself as you undergo the changes that come with that tiny baby being out of your nest. Just like they couldn’t stay in your body forever, they can’t stay in your home forever. And truly, this move, this change means all that you did, preparing them to go out into the bigger world for all those years, worked. They will learn a lot at college. And so will you.

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