I never thought I would experience pregnancy more than twice, but I was wrong.
No, no, I’m not really pregnant again (bite your tongue!). I am, however, exhibiting many of the same symptoms.
When we found out I was pregnant the first time, the wheels started turning immediately. We started wondering about so many things:
Were we ready for this change?
Were we up for the challenge of raising another human being?
Could we actually afford this?
Of course, those were only some of the questions. And it was a little late to be asking those questions, anyway.
We put lots of time into figuring out our name choices. We did research in actual “baby naming” books. As we pored over them, we made a list of names whose meanings held some level of importance in our hearts.
As the pregnancy went on, we had bouts of anxiety over whether we were ready. It was an emotional time. I was a little moody sometimes, a little snappish, and a little prone to tears. And it was a little bittersweet, admittedly, as we slowly, really came to the realization that our days of having privacy (or sleep!) were quickly coming to an end.
It was thrilling when we finally chose a name for him: that was one less thing we had to worry about, and it gave us freedom to move on.
When we were within arms’ reach of my due date, preparations intensified. We went to the hospital and took a tour of the labor and delivery floor. We met some of the nursing staff. We watched videos and received handouts on what to expect from the hospital.
We had to think about getting the nursery ready, and filled shopping carts full of things that this little guy would need. We figured out which pieces of furniture would work in his room, and got some of it from the store, some from relatives, and some from other parts of our house.
Sitting around together at night, we (like all pregnant couples) talked excitedly about what we thought our child would be like. Would he be cute? (Don’t act like you didn’t wonder the same thing about your future children.) What would he be like as a teenager? What might he be when he grew up?
Gradually, everyone I knew began asking me, “Still no baby?” as they shook their heads and looked at me with pity-filled eyes. “Nope,” I’d say, annoyed that they were asking a question whose answer was obvious, but also annoyed that this kid hadn’t arrived yet. I liked him already, and was excited to spend time with him.
When he finally arrived (late!), it was a huge adjustment, naturally. At first, I still shed random tears. Though I cried, I was so happy to have brought this little guy into the world. Eventually my hormones returned back to their normal state and we threw ourselves into parenting this adorably cute (Yes! He was SO cute!) little baby who we adored. That’s how the three of us started our journey as a family.
Now it’s time for that adorably cute little baby to go to college, and the process has been very similar. At the beginning of the college search, it was an exciting prospect to help him figure out what he wanted to do and where he wanted to go. At the same time, the reality that our job, completing Parenting (Phase I) was coming to an end. We started to ask ourselves lots of questions:
Were we ready for this change?
Were we ready to be “minus one” in our day-to-day family life?
Could we actually afford this?
Of course, those were only some of the questions. And it was a little late to be asking those questions, anyway. That train had already left the station.
When the three of us started researching colleges, we really researched. We pored over books which profile various schools, mostly in the Midwest but some that were out of the area. We made note of the ones that offered his desired major, and focused on those.
As time went on, we’ve had bouts of anxiety over whether we were ready. It’s an emotional time. I’ve been a little moody sometimes, a little snappish, and a little prone to tears. And it’s been a little bittersweet, admittedly, as we slowly, really came to the realization that our days of having NO privacy (or sleep!) were quickly coming to an end. (Well, sort of: there IS that other kid in the house. But you know what I mean.)
When he began to narrow down his college choices, we went on a couple of fact-finding missions so we could tour the schools. We were shown the classrooms, labs, cafeterias, and dorms. We met some of the professors and support staff. We watched videos and received handouts on what to expect from the schools.
It was thrilling when he finally chose a college: that was one less thing we had to worry about, and it gave us freedom to move on.
We’ve had to think about getting his dorm room together, and filled shopping carts full of things that this big guy would need. We figured out which pieces of furniture would work in his room, and got some of it from the store, some from relatives, and some from other parts of our house.
Sitting around at night, Jim and I (like all parents of new college freshmen) have had lots of conversations about what kind of college student he’d be. Would he still procrastinate? (I’ve got one guess.) Would he make good decisions? Would he get along with his roommate? Would he enjoy the college experience?
Suddenly, everyone I know has begun asking me, “You haven’t taken him to school yet?” while shaking their heads and looking at me with pity-filled eyes. “Nope,” I’ve answered, annoyed that they were looking at me that way while asking me that question, and then I’ve sighed heavily while filling them in on the fact that he’s due to leave much later than everyone else.
When he finally goes (somewhat appropriately on Labor Day weekend; we move him into the dorm this Sunday), it will be a huge adjustment, naturally. (For all of us.) Will I cry? Yes. But not for the reason you think. People say that “good parents make themselves obsolete”. I know without a doubt that Jim and I have done a great job raising this kid from baby to young man. I don’t have a problem with him “not needing” us as much. I know he still needs us, just in different ways from before. (And by the way, we are here for whatever his new needs are.)
So why will I cry?
Because I like him, and I will miss him.
The thought of not seeing him daily after eighteen years of doing so–complete with all of his silly jokes, interesting observations, thoughtful acts of kindness, responsible behavior, contagious laughter, and everything else that is a part of his whole being–feels physically painful to me…but of course I will adjust. He’s not leaving the family, just the house. Our relationship is moving into a new phase, and this is a happy time. It has been an honor to raise him to this point, and it will be an honor to watch him get his future going. We are so proud.
So if you see me cry or hear my voice quiver, it’s not because I’m really upset. There’s a little bit of sadness on the top layer, but underneath, it’s happiness. Just as it was so joyful to bring him into the world, it’s so joyful to be able to send him out in it.
A few extra hugs might be helpful, though.
©2010 Suburban Scrawl