Thing One is home after his freshman year at college. I remember last summer when it finally hit me that he was leaving, I spent four days in a depressed fog feeling devastated and crushed at the prospect of life without him. Ridiculous considering that theoretically I'd known he was "leaving" for months. But the instinct to parent is a "gathering-in" instinct, not a "pushing-away" instinct. I privately prepared for the worst when we left him at school in August.
It turned out that my big melt-down was those four days in the summer. Saying our final good-byes was a breeze because it was a long, tedious, very hot day moving him in and we were all rather sick of each other by the end of it. Here's to exhaustion usurping emotion!
I will say that Ex played a very large role in the tedium of that day, so when it came time this week to cross the state to bring Thing One home for the summer, I expertly appealed to Ex's workaholic-ness which worked like a charm. He stayed home and I went to Blacksburg.
Moving Thing One out was still exhausting, but without Ex's anxiety and controlling nature, it was a calm exhaustion--one that makes room for emotion. I had a moment to contemplate what a difference 9 months makes: Thing One has lots of friends. Thing One is happy here. Thing One is looking forward to returning in the fall. Thing One has grown-up a little bit.
I say out loud, "I wish I'd known last summer what I know now". I think inwardly that the knowledge would have saved me a lot of grief.
But then I realize, maybe not? The kind of knowledge that saves grief is an earned thing. I think about my own journey this past 9 months: Thing Two and I have created a nice routine sans Thing One. I started this blog. I am officially seeking a writing job. I have grown-up a little bit too.
Then I laugh when I suddenly focus on the checklist taped to Thing One's dorm-room door which I'm leaning on in my reverie ......it's the official checking-out checklist for Lee Hall which includes all the standard items:
1. Remove all personal belongings
2. Sweep and mop floor
3. Clean sink area
4. Close windows and blinds
5. Turn in key to R.A.
and written in blue highlighter at the bottom ...
6. Take a shit!
Thing One says it wasn't him that wrote it.
Don't EVEN ask how we got this picture!