Archive | August, 2012

Saying Hello

21 Aug

In a few days, my husband and I will remove the third row seating from our aging 1998 Toyota Sienna minivan – the one with a dented back bumper that never got fixed – and fill it with our daughter’s worldly possessions. All summer long, my daughter and I have been consulting shopping lists for college, and buying online and in the stores. I feel that I have been doing my patriotic duty by patronizing retailers and propping up the anemic US economy. No wonder back-to-school season is second to Christmas season in sales; sometimes it does feel like Christmas around here as packages arrive almost daily from UPS and the postal service.

After packing up the minivan and hoping that everything will fit, we will then drive her to her new life as a freshman at Barnard College in New York City. It will be an arduous trip, fighting through 30 miles of congested highways and crumbling city streets, to arrive at the hallowed halls of higher learning in upper Manhattan, a journey of an hour that was four years in the making. Upon arriving, we will help her move in, get settled, meet her roommates and their parents, and attend some college-sponsored events. When the clock strikes 4, it will be time for us to say goodbye.

It will also be time to say hello – hello to letting go as a parent, hello to trusting that 18 years of parenting, of instilling values and shaping her character will now stand her in good stead. Hello to believing that she will find her way around her new environment just fine, that when problems and issues arise (which they inevitably will), she will figure out how to resolve them, to know where and when to reach out for assistance, and to learn to manage her expectations. It will be saying hello to letting her make decisions so that she gains confidence from good ones and learns from not-so-good ones.

I don’t know how I will react then. I want to be dignified and clear-eyed and not dissolve into a wet mush of salty tears and snot. When my parents dropped me off 33 years ago, my mother sobbed all the way home from Philadelphia to New York, so distressing my father that he made many wrong turns and got hopelessly lost.

I am excited for her, for the new experiences and opportunities that lie ahead. I am hoping that if I concentrate and focus hard enough on what is good for her, then any sadness at her leaving will not threaten to overwhelm me.

That’s my plan for now.


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