Back when the kids made me Mother’s Day cards.
Nearly thirteen years ago the kids and I set out on a drive to Illinois. Dean must have been on a business trip. For one reason or another, the kids and I each wrote our account of the day on Holiday Inn stationery. We really didn’t need to write down the part about the seatbelt — none of us will ever forget that.
Left home at 11:10 this morning. Had hoped to get an earlier start but no luck. The kids were fine. Great first few hours then they began watching LOTR-FOTR. Stopped in good old Breezewood for lunch and gas. Bought too much food.
Arrived at motel in Fremont, Ohio around 7:30. Checked in. Kids wanted to stay in the car.
When I got back Clare was doing something to Andrew’s back. I jokingly asked Clare what did she do to Andrew. Then I saw that he had the seatbelt all tangled up and round his belly. I helped him escape and was on the verge of calling 911 to get him out. He finally did a backward somersault and slipped free. Dinner was good.
Kids watching TV now.
We left a lot later than I wanted to but we had TV. Then we ate lunch at a fine place. Then I had to go to the bathroom really really bad. Then we went to a place we went last time. Then stuff happened. And then…I got stuck in my seatbelt and I got to do a somersault. It was weird.
Today was funny…Halloween woke me up. Awwwww. Mom was mad. Dad left blah blah blah. OK later, Andrew got stuck in the seatbelt. Umm, I have no clue how. He had to do a backward somersault. errr.. Dinner was odd… umm mom probably told you. A cute kid (adorable) waved. He was 2. Then a thunderstorm came. I went to our room and am watching TV now. The seatbelt disappeared in his tummy. GTG ~*Clare*~
Those of you who read my blog or are my friends on Facebook or read my tweets or talk to me in person know that this has been a rough summer / year for me regarding my relationship with my daughter. For many years Clare and I were uncommonly close — she told me pretty much everything about her life and we did things together more than I think the average mom and teenage daughter did. Suddenly, and I cannot pinpoint exactly when it happened, Clare stopped sharing things with me and chose to hang out with me less and less often. I knew that this was perfectly normal behavior and that I was lucky to have had the close relationship with her for as long as I did, but it still felt like a slap in the face. I still felt like I was breaking-up with someone. I didn’t handle it well.
This summer was the worst — she was rarely home between 2 pm and 1 am and slept until at least noon most days. Again, I knew this was normal behavior — after all, this was the last time she’d see her friends for a while. On top of that she began working at a part time job and started seeing a young man she’d met through some friends. I felt like one of the parents in the Peanuts cartoon strip. Never seen and only heard as an indistinguishable and annoying noise.
So, dropping her off at college yesterday shouldn’t have been a traumatic experience for either of us. She was clearly ready to try out her wings and I was ready to not wake up at midnight wondering where she was and who she was with and when she was planning on coming home. I’d long since stopped saving up things I wanted to tell her — little tidbits from my day or thoughts I’d had about something I read — because by the time we were able to talk whatever I wanted to say lost its importance to me and rarely seemed of interest to her anyway.
We’d not read the dropping-off-your-student-at-Sarah-Lawrence-College information — Clare read it but most of it didn’t register with her. I think I just didn’t want to think about it so didn’t see that we were actually supposed to arrive at 8 am for a day of orientation etc. We saw that she’d be able to move into her dorm at 11 so shot for that time of arrival. We also didn’t anticipate an accident on the New Jersey Turnpike that caused 15 miles of stop-and-go traffic. We got to the school around 2:30 and annoyed school officials handed Clare her registration materials and room key. Not a good way to start out at college. Lesson learned — don’t expect your teenage child to read important registration information. I’m not sure we actually got the information ourselves — I think Clare got it in an email from the school.
When we finally got to the dorm, her roommate was waiting for her outside. Clare’s known her roommate for most of her high school years, if not longer. She showed us to their room — on the lower level of the dorm. I was shocked to see such a dreary room considering the price we are paying for the school (now officially the most expensive college in the country). There was one dim light in the room, not counting the lights by the girls’ mirrors. The beds were metal with plastic covered mattresses. Sarah’s bed was already made — she’d arrived on time — but Clare’s looked so depressing. We unpacked the truck (full to the brim) and brought her belongings into the room she’d call home for the next year, at least.
Clare and Sarah had to go to a mandatory meeting so Sarah’s parents, Dean and I stayed in the dorm and tried to fix the room up a bit. I didn’t want to do too much because I knew Clare would want to make the room hers, so I simply made the bed. Sarah’s parents set up a bedside table they’d just purchased and Dean put light bulbs in the colorful lamp that Sarah brought. Those few changes made the room much more cozy.
The college had the day tightly scheduled with meetings and a set “Goodbye” time. We were scheduled to say goodbye to Clare between 5 and 5:30. She came back from her 4:30 meeting at 5:15, commented on the bed being made, then told us it was time to say goodbye. She looked, to me, a little more unsure of herself than she had all summer — more vulnerable, but perhaps that was me, projecting my feelings on her. I certainly was not feeling strong, but she’d earlier begged me not to cry and I didn’t cry. We hugged her goodbye, snapped a few photos and left.
The crying didn’t start until we stopped for dinner at a service plaza on the New Jersey Turnpike where I sat in a stall the ladies room and shed the first tears of the day. I’d been thinking all the way back how I’d not really prepared her for this day. How I’d neglected to read the registration day information, how I’d forgotten to buy her laundry detergent. How I’d not insisted we shop for some dorm things together even though she was adamant that she and Sarah would do it. I worried that she’d not get enough to eat since her meal plan didn’t include breakfast (her choice). I kicked myself for not buying that mini fridge for Clare because I was upset that she’d not found the time to go to Costco with me. By the time we’d reached the service plaza I’d pretty much decided I was the world’s worst mother and I felt bad for Clare that she had me as a mother. That is what I cried about in the ladies’ room.
When we got back home and went to bed I cried for myself. I cried because that always awake inner ear that mothers have would not be used to listen for Clare anymore. That if she needed me and called for me in the night I’d not hear her because she was 4 hours away. I cried, remembering the infant we brought home from the hospital a little over 18 years ago. I cried because I felt that part of my soul was now elsewhere.
I also thought about some of you — you who’ve lost children or wanted children and were unable to have them. I thought how selfish I was being and that she was only in college — a natural part of growing up.
Is suspect that the next few days will be rough, but I’ll eventually get used to her being gone. We’ll see her in two months if not sooner, and she’ll be back for Thanksgiving (although, if my friends are correct, won’t stay home much when she’s back).
Clare’s grown up to be a remarkable young woman (despite my shortcomings) and I’m very proud of her. I’m just in a new stage of parenthood with her. And of course, we have two more years before our son goes off to college. Wait until that blog post.
Midway through the very long graduation ceremony for the graduating class of Walt Whitman 2009 the principal announced an award that was an unknown award for the recipient (and apparently everyone else).
He said that it was a new (2 year old) tradition.
It was a recognition of the poet laureate of the year.
Then he said my daughter’s name.
We’d not heard of this award.
Apparently I jumped several inches out of my seat.
Poet laureate — Carl Sandburg came to mind. Maya Angelou too.
My Poet Laureate.
My daughter is going to prom tonight. She’s wearing a lovely dress, classy shoes and an antique Spanish lace shawl. But she’s not happy. She left the house (to go to a friend’s house to dress) ranting how much she hated prom. So, while she acquiesced to try on her dress for me, I won’t get to see her all dressed up for prom.
She’s going to prom with a group of girls she’s known for years and with whom she feels comfortable. She claims that the only reason she’s going to prom is because it is what you do as a senior. Go to prom.
I’d not thought about my prom for a while. I went to prom in my Junior year, but not my Senior year. I went with a guy — Dan. He was a friend. Possibly the best friend I had that year. He liked me. I liked him. As a friend. I’d met Jeremy by this time and didn’t feel comfortable really dating anyone else. I remember not liking prom, but at the time I thought differently. Interesting how time changes memory.
I don’t know if it was considered OK for a group of girls (or guys for that matter) to go to prom alone 1n 1974. I suspect not. At least it never occurred to me to go to prom without a date. I’m glad times have changed though.
So the differences between these two proms, 35 years apart (almost to the day)
Clare bought her dress <———> My mom made mine
Clare’s going with a group of friends <———> I went with one (male) friend
Neither of us looked forward to it.
Tune in later to see of she actually enjoyed it. (Although I suspect that if she doesn’t, she’s not going to lie and say she did)
And yes, I wish I’d been asked to help her find a prom dress. And yes, I wish she were getting dressed here so I could see her before she went and take her picture and act all Momish. But, as I keep on telling myself lately, this is her life. Not mine. (although isn’t there something in the manual on life that allows parents to see their kids in prom clothes? and take photos? And act all proud?)
So you know Clare’s getting ready to go to college — right? I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before.
Well, back in her Sophomore year, when she took the PSAT, she gave the colleges permission to send her emails and snail mail. They took her up on that. She’s basically had to change email addresses because of the huge amount of email she has been getting from the colleges. At first the emails had subjects like: “Clare, we want you!” and “Your efforts have been noticed, Clare!”. This year they’ve gotten more desperate: “Re: Did you get my email?” and “Clare, we haven’t heard from you!” This week they say things like, “Time’s running out!” and “Hurry! Only one more day to apply to X-college”. Today they say, “Your application is overdue, Clare!”
She finished applying to the colleges on her list weeks ago, [actually she only finished part of the process, but knows what colleges she’s applying to], but the constant reminders are worrisome.
But the email is the least of it. Last spring we recycled half a 50 gallon container of college correspondence. On Sunday, in order to fit the Christmas tree in the living room, we did the same. But this time we took pictures…