Three years ago this week, my ex-husband, my youngest daughter, her BFF Katie,
and I made the Journey of the Ralph Lauren Gold locker to Morgantown, West Virginia. My baby was starting her freshman year at WVU. She still had braces. I can't help but think about how different this year's back-to-school trip with Jane was and how much things have changed. Just look at this picture of her with Katie taken a little while ago. They are starting their senior year of college. And, there are no braces!
It took us a couple of hours to move her into the dorm that first year. Suitcases and footlockers filled with clothes, boxes of supplies (school, bathroom, cleaning), etc. Hours were spent at Target and Walmart shopping for items we didn't have room to pack and groceries. And then we dealt with long lines at the bookstore for textbooks.
If I remember correctly, her third year, her father and I spent about two hours with her in the grocery section of Walmart giving her lessons on meal planning, food budget, reading labels, and what to keep stocked on her kitchen shelves. This time, there was one footlocker, one suitcase, a couple of bags. I took her back to the apartment she lived in last year. The trip to the grocery section took about 15 minutes. She had a system, she knew what to buy, and she planned on stocking up later in the week. She doesn't need me for that. She's got a checkcard.
There was no need to visit the bookstore this year. College students rent (yes, rent) textbooks now. As a parent, I love the reduction in cost. As a writer, I see this as a slippery slope. Note to self. Don't write textbooks. Opt for another genre.
That first year she was sad to see us go. This year, though in no rush for me to leave, she was perfectly fine with me heading home so she could get on with her life. It became apparent to me that she has crossed that invisible threshold my other girls crossed before her. For instance, as I spoke to her about next steps, things she should do or consider, tried to get a sense of her plans, tactfully tried to tap into her thoughts on various topics, she gracefully danced around me and moved on to other topics without my realizing it. Ah yes. I've been here before. Not much else to do but smile inside, accept the inevitable, and watch the wonderful things she'll do without my pulling strings or pushing buttons.
On the way home I thought about all that has changed since 2006:
- My mother died
- My oldest daughter married her high school sweetheart
- I sold my house
- I had three different bosses at AOL
- My oldest daughter delivered Delaney and I became a grandmother
- I raised my hand for one of the never-ending lay-offs at AOL
- I moved to the Eastern Shore of Maryland
- I re-started my consulting group and manage a living AND walks on the beach
- My middle daughter did some amazingly important things (winning a lot of awards) while finishing her degree this past Spring in Social Work and got a job in her field.
- I gave middle daughter my beloved, 13 y.o. Lexus LS400 to use as a "cash for clunker" on her first car purchase
- I apparently look more relaxed than I have in about 16 years
- The Ralph Lauren Gold locker now serves as the beach house game locker on my closed in porch
That's just top level.
September has always been the start of my new year. I've got two weeks before Labor Day. This year as I develop my annual plan, there will be some changes to add to my list.
- Remember that all my girls are grown up
- Get another job