Check on your friends with high school seniors. They are not okay.
Every day brings one more experience that I both treasure and mourn with the thought of “It won’t be like this again.” There was no preparing my heart for the mixture of emotions this period of my parenting life would bring. Nostalgia. Joy. Sadness. Pride. Relief that my husband and I raised a fully functioning human ready to go out into the world on her own. I was prepared to miss the big moments, like first days of school, but it’s the little things, even the things that drive me slightly batty, that I find I’ll miss most.
Her parenting advice. I mean, how will I possibly finish raising her brother without her here to tell me all the things I do wrong? How much easier I am on him than I ever was with her. How I’ve doomed his life with my poor parenting decisions. He is truly the one who will suffer the most after she’s gone because she actually might be a better mother than me.
Her timing. Most days, she is in and out fast with her earbuds tucked securely in her ears, but then there’s that moment where she drops everything, graces us with her presence, and settles in. This is always in the middle of a movie, conversation, or basically any activity her father and I have planned to do. Yes, we know she does this on purpose. Yes, we always stop what we are doing. Yes, we love every minute of it.
The noise. She is the tiniest human in our house and yet the loudest. Her trot down the stairs sounds like a herd of elephants, and she cooks like a chef on a hectic reality show with slammed cabinets and clanking pots. Don’t even get me started on how she closes doors. These days, when I’m startled awake by her bedroom door as she runs downstairs to cook eggs at midnight, I still shake my head but also dread the day I’ll no longer hear her door open and shut. I also worry about her future roommates, but that’s for them to figure out.
The mess. Don’t get me wrong. Her brother will do his part, but she is a next-level hoarder. Sure, it will be nice to not pass her room and worry that something might be hidden under the piles of who knows what, but that cleanliness will only shine a light on the void she will leave on this house as she drives away.
We have been a family for four for 16 years, and although I know that doesn’t change just because she’s leaving for college, there’s no avoiding the shift that will occur as she heads off to live her own life and chase her own dreams. I’ll be left here watching full movies uninterrupted, sleeping through the night, raising my son without unsolicited advice, and missing every frustrating, chaotic, beautiful moment before.