At least twice a week my eighteen year old son announces one form or another of his countdown. Thirty-six more days until he leaves for college. Twelve more days he has to make lunch or chance eating school food. Five more days of high school classes. And when he didn’t care for what I made for dinner the other night, he gently mentioned all the choices he will have on the meal plan in his dorm in, yes, thirty-six more days.
This probably sounds like I am not happy about his new endeavors. I am thrilled to see him move along life’s highway in the intended direction we envisioned for him from the moment he came bustling into the world. Each accomplishment, each milestone is another feather in my cap. I jumped up and down as each college acceptance came in the mail, grinned until my face hurt watching him accept his cords for graduation and will not let him see me shed a single tear as he and his friends leave for the prom tomorrow night. It is all exhilarating.
It was exciting watching my daughter do it all three years ago too. Here is the difference though: I wonder each day as he edges closer to the independence that we strived for him to acquire, whether he could just do it with a little more finesse that would at least let me believe that he will call once in a while or possibly even miss us a little. I now believe wholeheartedly that although girls today are hopefully bred to also be independent and strong; they still have a sense that leaving for college doesn’t have to be so cold cut.
When my sister and I were little girls our mother had two good friends that had only sons. I remember going into one of their homes where the mothers were going to visit while the kids played. Our mother stopped my sister and me on our walk up to the front door and asked us to give her friends big hugs when we got inside. I asked why, of course, and never forgot Mom’s answer. She gently told us that her friends would never know the warmth of a little girls’ hug and although they had great sons, they didn’t know what they were missing. We complied and moved on to the playroom for a solid game of Battleship and never gave it another thought until I had my own children.
I knew my mom was a brilliant and perceptive woman, but she isn’t here now to commiserate with me as I am packing my son up for college. And I am fully aware that some of my friends that have only boys are over-the-moon happy to not have daughters to contend with. I will be the first to admit that either way raising children, regardless of gender, is amazing, wonderful, and full of surprises and occasionally a little tsurus. I only wish that saying goodbye felt a little more like a see you later when it came to my son. Going to miss the way you make us all laugh, the kiss disguised as a head butt as you walk out the door and a whole lot more. Feel free to skype into dinner any night, Matthew. Your seat will be vacant.