This summer was one of trips and transitions. We did a lot, we laughed a lot, I cried a lot. Let me explain. Our oldest child graduated from high school in June. He had been accepted into the College of Engineering at Michigan State University, so our biggest goal of the summer was prepping, packing and leaving him in a dorm one hour and forty-seven minutes from home. In the meantime, we also had a graduation party to throw (at our house) two family vacations, several work trips and various other camps that the girls were attending. All of this while trying to keep my head on straight and not allow my emotions to suck me down a spiraling staircase of reminiscing and yearning for years gone by.
Planning for the party was fun. It was by far the biggest event we have ever had at the house. Once we decided that we would host this shindig at the house, we made a list of about 243,946 projects that we’d like done before “D-Day”. We settled on a few and I became a contractor of sorts, finding companies and setting up appointments. We had a privacy fence installed, we power washed the house, we had carpets cleaned… and we were just getting started. Nothing puts a fire under your tush like having 125 people over! Our son is very low key and wanted the basic “good food” at the party. Easy enough. He had worked at Tony Packo’s for 18 months, and wanted their dogs and chicken paprikash for the main course. We also has chicken salad sandwiches and regular hot dogs for those who were not craving hungarian food. We had side dishes galore and an entire dessert table filled with sweets to celebrate our Spartan. I had fun decorating and sharing all of the mementos from preschool to present with family and friends. The weather was absolutely perfect – 73 degrees and sunny on July 9th – and the day was filled with family and friends that were all anxious to congratulate our graduate. After the last guest left, I took the best nap I have ever taken in my life. I was tired, but mostly relieved that all of our planning had indeed granted us a party that we will never forget.
For the next six weeks, I divided my time between searching for dorm furniture/ supplies and packing, transporting, and unpacking our family for various excursions. We spent a fun week at a cottage with extended family celebrating my sweet mom’s 70th birthday. Steve and I went to Traverse City for a work conference. Mary went to camp for a week with 3 friends and rode horses and swam in the lake, and learned awesome camp songs she shared with us upon her return. We took a final family trip to New York in August. We were thrilled to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the Brooklyn Bridge, the 9/11 Memorial and much, much more. The last few days of our trip we were in Atlantic City and enjoyed a gorgeous few days at the beach.
This last trip will always be very special to me, as it ended an era. The time in which all my children lived under the same roof was coming to a close. My heart ached whenever I imagined having our oldest away at school. Would he be OK? Had we taught him enough? Did he know how very much he is loved? Would he ever change his sheets?! I would worry, question my self, doubt my parenting and fret over mistakes I’d made raising him. I prayed more than I have prayed ever before. For peace, for strength, for the ability to keep my sh*t together on move- in day. (It’s Ok. God knows I swear.) And my prayers were answered. As the day we moved him in approached, I felt a sense of calm and confidence that he – and I – would be alright.
It has now been almost a month since our oldest went to college. It still doesn’t feel “normal”. In fact, I can’t imagine that his absence will EVER feel normal. But he calls, texts, and facetimes. I have never appreciated technology more! We have seen him twice, before football games, and he looks good and that helps my heart. I’m excited for him to come home next month for the week end – its fun to have that on the calendar. I have seen him stumble, and then catch himself. I have sat back and given advice and prayed he could handle it alone – and so far, so good. We are doing it! The transition doesn’t come easily, there are tears, stressful phone calls and worried texts. But, there is also growth, encouragement and independence. This adulting business is no joke. But I couldn’t be more proud. There was an immense amount of effort to get us to and through August. We made it out alive – with only a few bumps along the way and swollen eyes from crying to show for it. Bring it, October! We are ready for more adventures, and no longer fear the future, for we fully understand that God is already there!