Off to college

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 30, 2004

Where did the summer go? Perhaps you too feel we got slightly shortchanged this year.

Understandably, it appears this was the wettest summer I can remember in many years and I suppose it played a large role in making it feel like summer went zipping by without offering much in the way of fun.

But to be perfectly honest, the summer flew by for me because I watched my two daughters gearing up for college and from one day to the next, it just seemed like time was accelerating.

Days and nights went by as if there was some giant countdown system in place to tick off the seconds from the day they graduated high school, to the moment the last piece of their luggage was packed in the car.

How hard I tried not to watch the calendar, but with other things going on – and that rainy weather – it just seemed as if this was the summer that wasn’t for me.

As May rolled around last spring, there seemed to be some constant reminder in my head each day to attempt to spend time doing this or doing that so when fall did come around, I would feel all better about having spent as much time with them as possible.

Well, the doing this and doing that never really fit into anyone’s schedule and the more attempts made, the worse the actual results became.

So somewhere around the end of July, there was the big push for that &uot;one last family outing&uot; to the beach.

It was absolutely wonderful, but time didn’t stand still… it moved on and with it went my two little girls off to the big city to become somebody in the world.

I remember so well, my first days of living away from home. The sweet smell of freedom, yet the security of knowing my &uot;other&uot; bedroom was still at mama and daddy’s.

After a year at Chowan, commuting from my parent’s home in Woodland, I was more than ready to give my parents a break and head out in the real world.

With car keys in one hand and a few clothes in the other, my mind was made up to leave this little area and never come back. Well, not until the weekend or a good hot meal was needed anyway.

Actually, I can’t remember if I ever thought about leaving for good. I knew I wanted to get away – not from my parents, but to get away so that I could think on my own, do what I wanted to do, experience life without feeling as though someone was over my shoulder every minute.

Back then, it was so natural because it was me on that end of the thinking. Now, it’s reversed and oh how it hurts that my own two little girls could ever want to venture away from home, and be happy about it!

I know it’s the right thing and as time goes on, it feels more and more like the right thing. But at first, it was like a knife sticking in my heart and twisting as each day of summer faded into another yesterday that I know longer had any control over.

Growing up is a hard thing to do – both times. I know having children has made me grow up all over again, learning much more the second time than the first by far.

But the second time seems the hardest. I suppose that’s because you know more about life and all that’s out there that’s evil and good and you remember how hard it can be at that young age to tell the difference.

My sadness of the girls leaving for college wasn’t so much in me losing them, but rather the fact I could no longer be there to help with the decision making anymore.

But, as many wise people have told me over the past three months, it’s time to let go and see if any thing their mother and I have taught them has stuck.

Sure, they’re going to make mistakes, fall on their butts a few times, but that too is a part of growing up. That’s also the part I fear the most – knowing when to let them fail.

It’s been a short, short summer, but I have this feeling some day – maybe not in the next year or two – but someday soon I am going to look back and see all of what this summer really did have to offer.