Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Hardest Day

One of the most satisfying things about being a parent is watching your child learn and grow into a responsible young person. It's also one of the hardest things about being a parent.  Because you know that the day is approaching when your child will be an adult.

It's frightening.

A parent's first job is to protect and provide for our children. We naturally want to give them the best of everything and do whatever it takes to help them succeed. As they grow, our efforts to help are eventually met with, "Let me do it, Mom." This is our cue to step back and watch as they demonstrate all their newly learned abilities. Ah, sweet success!

Then comes THE DAY.  Your baby is ready to venture out on his own. His bags are packed and he is ready to leave the nest.

That day came for me last week.

It's time. Time to load his boxes and bags in the truck. I resist the urge to check the contents, and satisfy myself with a few reminders about key items that I suspect he may have forgotten. Last minutes items are retrieved and we are on our way. During the drive, we discuss seemingly random things like vehicle maintenance, health insurance and credit cards.

We arrive at the university, locate his dorm and wait patiently as he navigates the check in process. Then we help him move his belongings into the room that will be his home for the next nine months. After all that hard work, everyone is hungry, so we head to the local pizza place for lunch.  Lunch is followed by a trip to the grocery store to stock up on snacks and drinks.

Suddenly, it's time to say good-by. Somehow I manage to hold it together through hugs and kisses, and then we're gone. On the way home, I hold back the tears.

My baby has grown up and now he's on his own. He's been preparing for this his entire life. He's ready. He will be fine - great, in fact. 

I'll be fine, too. After all, it's only college, it's not forever, and the relatively short drive will make visits easier and (hopefully) more frequent.

It has been one of the hardest days of my life... and one of the most satisfying.