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27 August 2004

Milestones

Milestones -- I anticipate and take note of every single one in my knitting! Moving on to the second half of the chart for Cromarty was a biggie. I'm anticipating the completion of the third repeat of Chart D (the main one), and have just completed a repeat of Chart C. Starting a new ball is a milestone, also, and since I'm nearing completion of another main chart repeat, that also means I'll be starting a new ball soon! For me, it's little things such as these that help keep me motivated, taking mental note and acknowledging each little step and its importance to the whole. Your wonderful comments about that sweater and my trials and tribulations are extremely motivating, also. Thank you!!

Warning. That's all the knitting news, folks. Some of you may want to click away now. The rest of this is about other milestones -- one in particular -- and it has to do with children growing up and leaving home for college, and it's long and rambly, and I'll probably cry.

At this time last year, I was marking one of the biggest milestones in my life. My eldest child went off to college -- far away.

Once, when this child was three, I was sitting on the front porch and watched as a police car turned into our driveway. He was delivering my three-year-old back to me as I sat stunned, not aware that she was even missing! He told me that she'd been bookin' it down the street with some determination (the street that's "over the river and through the woods" -- literally down a wooded ravine path and across a small creek) -- I have no idea where she was going or what inspired this exploratory trek! By the time she was five I'd already heard many times that she'd be moving away when she grew up, and it continued all through her school years. She applied to an exchange program (Germany) in high school and thank goodness she was a runner-up because that's where she would have been on 9/11 and I don't know if I could have handled that.

Anyway, since her dad is a native of Southern California and since she, herself, was born on the Oregon Coast, and given this yearning-to-leave history, I wasn't surprised that she chose Humboldt State University in Northern California for her freshman year.

When I was a child, we moved at least once a year from the time I was born until the third grade. I was born in Milwaukee, but lived there only a couple of months before the moving began. It's my "hometown," but I never really lived there and never felt very connected (though I loved visiting when my sister Sharon lived there). Sometimes we moved more than once a year; my school career began by attending kindergarten at three different schools. When I was a senior in high school, I decided to live with my dad in a small town in Northern Wisconsin. I went from a class of over 300 in my former school to a class of 36 in the new. In the yearbook, there were pictures of many of my new classmates together in diapers, sharing toys and a playpen. I was always envious of people I knew who grew up in one place and who had true, lifelong friendships, ties to a community, and relatives who lived nearby. I guess that sense of belonging to a place was always something I wanted for my kids, so when Katie was two, we bought a house and we've lived there ever since. Perhaps it's not surprising that my children want to spread their wings (Maddy talks about living in Africa...).

It was all so very exciting... and scary and dreadful.

I drove her to school in California -- 2500+ miles away -- meeting my sister Sharon in Nebraska so she could help with the driving (and emotional support). We stopped overnight in Reno (my first time ever in a casino) and counted our winnings as we left.

The college is in a beautiful area and it's a beautiful school -- there was a lot of excitement and activity (and many trips to Big K-mart) to get her settled. We took in the sites, walked on the beach, visited the redwoods. On my last night there, Kate and I went to see Freaky Friday and I started to cry as the music began, one of my favorite songs ever -- "So Happy Together." I don't know if a more *touching* movie has ever been made. (Yeah, you get the picture.) I know I didn't succeed completely in holding it together after giving Katie one last hug and walking out the door to go home. I was blinded by tears and desperately trying to hold back sobs as I walked through the hall and down the stairs, big burly California-tanned freshman football players telling me, as I passed by, that it would be okay, she would be okay...

I found my way to the car where Sharon was waiting, took a few minutes to pull it together, and we started to drive. We re-traced our route in complete silence for hours. I dealt with the waves of emotion as they came. There are things I will always associate with that trip -- "Freaky Friday" and "So Happy Together," and many songs sung by Eva Cassidy, particularly "In The Early Morning Rain" (written by Gordon Lightfoot). You know, when you're in a heightened emotional state and everything means something.

It was a bit harder after I dropped Sharon off in Lexington, NE, and had to continue alone. I choked back tears every few miles. Finally, about an hour-and-a-half from home, knowing that I had to greet my two younger daughters after being away for a week and show them that I was happy to see them, even while pieces of my heart were strewn along I-80 and I was so, so sad, I stopped the car. I stopped on the side of a road in an industrial park on a Sunday afternoon to let myself cry -- sob and wail and wring out every tear. Just as I was getting going, the stupid phone rang. It was my mom. There was no way I could tell her where I was or what I was doing, so I really choked 'em back. Aaargh. I never did get my good heart-wrenching cry!

Katie flew home at Christmas and she truly was a wonder to behold.  Her own father didn't recognize her! She wore her hair and makeup differently and looked so independent, grown up, mature... I took a high school hippy kid to college and a sophisticated and poised young woman came home.

For various reasons, she didn't return to school at HSU for second semester. I have enjoyed having her home while she's worked for the past 8 months and made plans for school this fall.

She's leaving on Monday.

This time, she's going to an in-state school that's about 100 miles away. This time, her own sister is helping her move (and looking forward to an overnight in a dorm). This time, she will have her car and will feel less isolated. This time, too, her mother won't have to wait 'til Christmas to see her again (that's the best part). It's still bittersweet and I'm going to miss having her around all the time, but it's a piece of cake compared to last year!

 

Comments

sniff, sniff -- when my oldest daughter goes off to college this time next year, can I just copy and paste this post onto my site??

I'm teary eyed too! What a great post. You really did a great job describing your feelings and your trip. Thanks for sharing.

Great post. I'm two years away from the eldest daughter leaving the nest. I can't even think about it without getting upset (she already talking about going to college "out of state, far away from here") and yet I know she'll be just fine, and just like with your daughter she'll gain independence and maturity. I also think that she'll come back after stretching her wings, just as yours did.

Man, this is a great post about why being a parent doesn't get easier when you get to start sleeping through the night.

Oh my! What a great post. Am I in denial about how I am going to be in 3 weeks when I send Carrie off? Atleast I know I am not alone. : )

Boy, do I understand what your talking about! Jordan first went to Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. I cried and cried. This time...he is 30 minutes away in an apartment. Much better!! :-)

I know I'm going to go through all of this and I can't even imagine my first born going to high school next year. I am a baskecase in waiting! We are already too nostalgic about their childhood. They are , as well!!

What do you mean college? They move out?! They leave you? There is growing up? I'm totally not ready for this information.

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