Last week I dropped my oldest child off at University.
The next day I sent my husband and my youngest child back to Djibouti.
Yesterday I drove my second firstborn (twins) to a different University.
Now it is just me, in my parent’s basement (so see, kids never really move out), for a few months as the twins transition to university life in this foreign country called the United States of America.
Now, I’m asking the questions all parents of recent university students ask:
What just happened to my life?
What just happened to my family?
How am I doing?
How am I doing?
I don’t even now how to begin answering.
Okay. Not okay. Emotions are layered, shifty things.
I thought for sure I would be one of the moms who cries as she walks out of the dorm room or who sits in the parking lot of the university waiting for the tears to clear enough so I could drive away, away, away.
But guess what?
I wasn’t that mom.
I didn’t end up crying in the car in the parking lot or the dorm stairwell. Not that there is anything wrong with doing that. I had a pocket full of Kleenex, totally expected that to be me.
Maybe my tears are used up. Maybe it hasn’t quite hit me yet. Maybe we are more used to the separation. Maybe my house doesn’t feel empty yet because I’m not yet in my house that no longer holds their memorabilia and stuffed animals. Maybe it will strike me most when they come to Djibouti but they will not be able to enter the country on our family work permit but will have to apply for a tourist visa.
I’m not going to feel guilty about the lack of tears. So many articles about moms sending kids to college include this flow of emotion and believe me, emotions have flowed. They just didn’t flow in that moment.
I’m okay with that.
I’m owning my excitement for my kids and their new adventure.
I’m prepared for the day when the ache strikes and I cry. Or not.
I’m expecting to cry on the plane in January when I go back to Africa. Or not.
So much of parenting comes with pressure to do certain things, make certain choices. We can be judgmental to the point of cruelty toward other parents.
The ones who cry? Weak, mushy, unprepared, overly emotional, too attached.
The ones who don’t cry? Cold, pushing the kid out, unloving, distant.
I call bull-oney on all that. I’m done with “supposed to” and “should”. I faced enough of that in our decision to send the kids to boarding school, or way back to when we moved to Somaliland in 2003. Faced enough of it when I gave birth in Djibouti, when I used disposable diapers, when I breastfed or pumped or bottle-fed, when I just wanted to get to the end of the day with everyone mostly fed and mostly clean.
What “should” parenting look like? What choices am I “supposed to” make for my family? What “should” I be feeling in this moment?
I have no clue.
I’m deciding what we decided.
I’m feeling what I’m feeling.
Cry on, moms who cry. Don’t cry at all, moms who don’t.
(I’m a pre-griever, more about that later)
Did you cry at drop-off? Do you think you will? Know you won’t?