Tomorrow is the third and final round. Sounds conclusive, eh? In most ways I suppose it is. Like an irrevocable binding; an ending that can’t be rewritten, whatever happens tomorrow will happen no matter how much I wish we could go back. I stood in line at Target yesterday and listened to a six year old (I am assuming her age) hold up to two pairs of brightly colored socks and ask her mother about this oddity on the camp calendar call Crazy Sock Day. The blue eyed girl’s excitement was palpable and I considered for a moment telling the mother to put down her phone, unsure as to whether her enthusiasm over Sock Day equaled its deserved delight. Instead, I reluctantly kept my lump in my throat right where it belonged and daydreamed all the way through the checkout line about the many years I prepared my three kids for camp each summer.

The thing is, tomorrow my baby is not leaving for her last summer at camp, but instead she is heading off to college. Of course, this is where she is supposed to be going. It is all part of that path that we set them up to journey as toddlers and, if we are successful, they slowly break away from our guidance and keep on marching in the right direction. Yeah, yeah….I get all that. I want for her the autonomy that is at the basis of being a true adult. And I want her to have a strong education and achieve the multitude of goals she has rolled up her sleeve. I realize my job description changes, doesn’t disintegrate. The question is, why did it have to happen so fast?

About five minutes ago, or seven years, I cried my eyes out on the long ride from Florida State after dropping my first daughter off at college. I learned to manage my sadness over missing her mostly by concentrating on how happy she sounded as she navigated her new path in life. Well, that and regular Facetime visits to the dinner table so that the empty seat didn’t always stick out like a glaring reminder that one had flown the coop. I am not going to lie; I still stop just about everything to hear about her day as she walks from work to the subway each night. She lives in New York City and I managed to not only accept that, but encourage it, because I know it was what she wants.

Then three minutes, or three years, later my son followed in his sister’s footsteps and became Nole. I can’t say this was an easier transition; I missed him just as much, but his exhilaration was so blatant and I was now experienced. Besides, I still had one more child at home to put all my energy into…poor girl. Somehow he graduated in a blink of an eye too and will soon be joining the work force also in New York City. I will deal with that next month frankly, because right now tomorrow is creeping up on me.

So, yes round three. And what have I learned? That life goes fast and we have to enjoy every minute. To put the phone down and watch the real thing. That one can truly draw from other people’s happiness; I believe that is one of the first rules of motherhood. That there are no do-overs, but we can learn from our mistakes as well as our successes. That my family has been my main job for the last twenty-five years and I will never apologize for that; regardless of whether I am feeling a little lost the day after tomorrow. And, of course, that there will never be enough Crazy Sock Days, so one should always be prepared to make her own.