My kids leave for college in one week.
Both of my kids.
All of my kids.
Next Tuesday they’ll drive 13ish hours to Eugene, Oregon in Jack’s car.
Bill and I are flying up Wednesday to settle Karly into her dorm and Jack into his apartment.
Two days later, Bill and I will board the plane to LAX without them.
(If Jack’s drop-off set any precedent, I’ll wear sunglasses to avoid scaring others with my sad, swollen eyes. But I will feel happy and proud. Also there will be a pit in my stomach. Big enough for both of my kids. For all of my kids. Then we will text each other and, after a few days, I’ll FaceTime my babies and all will be well. Quiet. Impossible. But also true.)
In the meantime, Bill and I find ourselves looking at each other, saying
When did that happen? We’re still in our twenties!
Just yesterday or maybe last month or 20 years ago we were in our Izusu Trooper driving 45 in the slow lane terrified of everyone else BECAUSE WE HAVE A NEWBORN IN OUR CAR AND WHY ARE YOU SPEEDING SO FAST AND SO CLOSE TO US AND WHAT WERE WE THINKING WE AREN’T READY TO HAVE A BABY.
Nope. We weren’t ready to be parents. But it happened anyway. We had a baby. Then we had another one.
Then we had 18 more years and then
ready or not. There they go.
So I wake up to feed the dogs and shuffle around with my coffee in the dark, listening to the sounds of this almost-silent house. Jack and Karly sleep in late these days. I have the time and space to write. But I can’t focus my brain enough to string together meaningful sentences.
This feels too big. There’s too much to say.
I say none of it.
(But don’t imagine from looking at me that there isn’t a whole book below the surface, thoughts on gratitude and regret and joy. Beneath my cover lurks an encyclopedia of what it meant — what it means — to be the mother of these good people. Great volumes in which I tell myself nothing has to change. Jack and Karly know we love them. This is their home. They can return for Thanksgivings and Christmases. Spring Breaks. Summers. Under this roof or any roof of mine, they are welcome. Forever.)
Nothing has to change. Everything will change.
Last year I tried to put the fog into words. My emotions this summer are no different, except both of my ducks are leaving the nest.
All of my ducks.
At least they’ll be together, which brings more peace to my heart than I can wrap my head around yet.
But I’ll have to. Soon.
Ready or not.
Because this is the good stuff.