At the end of May, Tyler graduated from high school and we celebrated with a party a few weekends ago. Thankfully, after a week of continuous rain, we dodged a bullet and had a dry day for it. We needed to put down a couple of bales of straw purchased at the last minute so the backyard volleyball court didn’t turn into mud volleyball. Other than being the typical Midwest hot and humid, it was a great day for an outside party.
This past weekend, we visited his college campus for Freshman First Day; a day to meet Academic advisors, finalize schedules and explore campus. As we settled in at the hotel the night before, I realized that it was at Freshman Orientation at the University of Missouri that Darrell and I first met almost 26 years ago. I tried to remember what my parents had been like back then, but honestly I couldn’t remember very much other than they came with me. The main thing I remember from that day was the reality that I was going to have a heavy course load that first semester and I thought that blonde guy who sat next to me at the Orientation was really cute. I had a boyfriend from high school at the time, and had no idea that cute boy would eventually become my husband. (Let me tell ya about it sometime—it’s a great story.)
I’m not sure why it came as a surprise to me when I was reminded that our firstborn is the same age that we were when we met. With everything going on these days, I hadn’t had time to process that our little boy was on the brink of adulthood. Yes, the kid who can’t keep track of where his car keys and shoes are most of the time is moving four hours away where he will be in charge of himself completely. While I know that we will miss him doing Tyler-esque things like walking around the house, strumming his guitar and bugging his sisters with impromptu songs about whatever it is they’re doing, I can’t help but be excited for him as he starts this new chapter in life. Where he has trepidation about making all the right decisions, I see nothing but a blank slate of potential. I’m not so old that I don’t remember the uncertainty of being 18, but I wish he knew that when it’s all said and done, he’ll look back at this time and wish he’d savored it more instead of wishing it away to be an adult in the working world.
When you’re 18, your family, high school and the people you’ve been in school with over the past few years are truly your realm of experience. For many, college is the first point in life where you step into your own. It’s a time for learning more about yourself and how you fit into this big, wide world. You meet people with personalities and ideas that you may have never been exposed to before. It can be a little intimidating, but ultimately shapes you into the person you were meant to be.
I am convinced that the timing for a child’s (ahem, I mean young adult’s) departure for college correlates perfectly with his parents’ patience (aka tolerance) level for having another almost-adult present in the home. Little things Tyler does, like leaving shoes all over the kitchen—nothing new—seem to get under my skin a little more than they used to. I think it goes both ways, because I feel like Tyler gets annoyed with us about things, too. In these waning days before he heads off to school across the state, I look at my son with a little more tenderness. I overlook the empty Pop Tart wrappers he leaves around the house and grumble a little less when he forgets to put his dishes in the dishwasher. (I said a LITTLE!) I find myself giving in a little more often when he asks if we can do breakfast for dinner.
At the heart of it all, I’m proud of all he’s accomplished, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him.