September Editor’s Note: Sending Kids Off to School
It’s the season of kids going out the door.
he stack of beach towels I just stuck on the back of the closet shelf took summer with them. I was especially reluctant to put them away because lunch boxes – or in our case suitcases –come out next.
My daughter Lily leaves for college tomorrow. I’ve done this three times before and have one daughter still home in the nest, but believe me, this is not a practice-makes-easier situation.
You’ve probably noticed by now that, as moms and dads, we don’t get to pause in the nice phases when all is in-sync with our kids or fast-forward through the rough times. They inch towards the door from the day they are born and we pretty much are along for the ride.
Sometimes we may feel pretty skilled at faking that we understand what we are doing with all this parenting business, but face it, kids aren’t the only ones playing pretend. Trying so hard to “do it right” can be exhausting, so you think I’d be happy about getting a lighter workload with one less kid around. But looking back, all those middle-of-the night responses to night mares and early morning drives to rowing practice look pretty sweet.
I’m no good at chronicling in journals or scrapbooks, but I love sifting through what some would call a “junk” drawer to nudge memories to the surface – the key to a long-gone car that carried us to Ohio on an epic road trip, a teen’s driving permit, a burnt-out #6 birthday candle and business cards from tutors, wedding caterers, therapists, house painters and dog washers.
That’s why, when I was digging through our cluttered basement searching for something Lily could use to hold all the stuff she is taking, I was so happy to come upon the battered suitcase that used to be my dad’s. Look closely, you can see the faded Gonzaga University sticker on it. He took it, packed full of his great enthusiasm for life, when he went to college in 1932.
“Pa” passed away over five years ago but when Lily was three, he used to drive several miles to our house every morning, just for the pleasure of walking hand-in-hand with her a few blocks to preschool.
When Lily leaves tomorrow, she’s bringing along with her Pa’s oversized love of life. He might as well be holding her hand as she heads off to Gonzaga. And for this teary mom, it’s a small comfort to be reminded by that old suitcase that life is not a lonely road but a full circle.
Best of luck with your fall send off - whether your child is going out the door with a lunchbox or a suitcase. You are letting them go, and you’re right there with them.