Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The New Normal

There’s no point counting down anymore. The time has come to let go the apron strings, loosen the heart strings, and watch Our Daughter and her best buddie roommate recede in the rearview mirror as we drive away from her college dorm.

Not long ago, or so it seems, she cried at the thought of leaving home for college. She practically made us promise never to send her away.

Sure, she was a kindergartener at the time, but what has that got to do with anything? Just because she has managed to maturely accept the concept of living on her own and is eagerly looking forward to the sundry, looming freedoms awaiting her doesn’t mean I can’t hyperventilate every now and then.

Or openly weep.

In public.

While picking out strawberries at Walmart.

Somewhere along the way, and without any regard for my wishes, she changed from a happy, if slightly insecure, little girl to a confident young woman. Play dates have been replaced by plans to meet up with friends. Preschool in Pinehurst has given way to Pre-Dental studies at UNCG. I don’t recall ever giving permission for any of this to happen.

This is the same kid who once blew out a diaper so badly we spent thirty minutes washing poop out of her hair. She’s the same girl who ate so many fish crackers she ended up projectile vomiting all over her mother and the surrounding fifteen square feet of shag carpet. This is the girl who spent the better part of nine years learning how to ride a bicycle. She’s the one who got on the bus for the band trip to Disney without remembering to pack her instrument, and we’re going to trust her to manage her time wisely and, at some point in the not-too-distant future, drill holes in people’s teeth?

And, yet, it is happening, regardless of all my concerns, fears, trepidations and unwillingness to see her as anything but that cute little bundle with the puffy cheeks and tremendous brown eyes we brought home from the hospital nearly eighteen years ago.

Her bedroom has been raked over in search of treasures to either bring with her or pack away, and to make way for her twin brothers to finally have their own rooms. There’s a large pile of stuff in the basement – linens and clothing, textbooks and small appliances – waiting to be packed in the van tomorrow night in preparation for the journey to their new home in Greensboro. And there’s the girl herself, in limbo, struggling with short-timer’s disease, eager to gleefully leap into her studies with familiar wide-eyed enthusiasm, waiting for the next exciting phase of her life to begin.

In a few months, possibly even just a few weeks, it will all become the new normal. We will eventually stop calling it her bedroom. We will adjust to dinners at the smaller table in the kitchen nook instead of the big table in the dining room. The dog will stop searching the house for her and we will accept the fact she is capable of moving on without us into the life for which, if we have been even a faint semblance of the perfect parents we like to think we are, we have prepared her. She will be fine, and so will we.

However, you might want to avoid the strawberries at Walmart for a little while. They might be a bit salty.

2015 Mark Feggeler

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