My son went off to college a few months ago, and I thought I was prepared. I did all the things mothers do in advance of their youngest leaving the nest – I planned graduation parties, bought gifts, doted on my “baby,” commiserated with other moms in the same boat, vowed we’d keep in touch even more with the kids gone even though we knew we wouldn’t and spent an entire Saturday driving around crying. I was ready.
But, just to make certain, I made plans – lots and lots of plans. I would clean out every closet. I would clean the garage. I’d redo the backyard, the front yard, heck, I would even clean out the attic!
“The house will be spotless when you come home for Thanksgiving,” I told my son. “I’m going to clean every nook and cranny, get rid of things, paint …” the list went on and on to which my son responded, “I’m glad I’m going to school,” followed by what I thought sounded like “poor Dad.”
And then in the midst of all the planning and preparing and buying cleaning supplies – for him and me - the day came. The day I would hug him and say good-bye – for now. I prided myself on staying positive all the way home and didn’t break down inside Bass Pro Shop and accuse my husband of leaving me lost and alone after I went to the ladies’ room and couldn’t find him after I got out as I did when our daughter went off to school. I’ve got this, I thought.
Then came the text. It said simply, “You have been removed from the youth group list.”
“Wait, what? He’s only been gone a day. Isn’t he still in the youth group?”
The answer is, of course, and he is still a vital part of the church, but I was no longer the mom of a youth. I didn’t need to know every function they were having and at whose home and who would bring the potato salad. For the first time in 24 years, I did not have a youth. My kids were and are, for all intents and purposes, grown.
So, I tried to recovered from this hurt by walking around naked since I no longer had to worry about privacy. Frankly, for those of you with kids still at home, it’s overrated.
My mood was upbeat, however, the next day until I got another notification, “You have been removed from the football notification list.”
Oh. Oh. Oh, wait, but I’m still on the board. Don’t I need to know when practice is cancelled and when the team meetings are?
And, just like clockwork, I heard a ding on my phone. The high school was removing me from their group text list.
“Wait, hang on, not so fast,” I thought. “I’m not ready.”
Then it dawned on me; I mean REALLY dawned on me. I do not have a high school kid.
Of all the things that could trigger tears, the irony of it was not lost on me. I hated group texts! While I appreciated the information, I complained the loudest about all of the texts that I got - the vibrations during important meetings, the alerts going off in the middle of the night with unnecessary information, the endless reply alls!
But now, I missed it. I missed all of it. I missed my son. I missed my daughter who is now a senior in college and will be out on her own soon. I missed spending more than I earn at the bulk food store. I missed the shoes on the floor, the dirty laundry, the stinky knee pads and shin guards and all of the things I swore I never would. Those things, those every day, mundane, sometimes - OK, often - annoying things? Well, those are the things I miss the most.
But, alas, time marches on. If I were a member of a group text, I’d send one out now to tell you just how great my kids were doing and how incredibly proud of them I am and how they’ll always be my babies. But, I am not a member anymore, which is probably just as well. I will soon be too busy organizing and cleaning to chat– summer is gone and Thanksgiving will be here before you know it. I’d better get started.