April 12, 2016

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Leaving Home

Today is my son's last Friday at home. This time next week, he will be settling into his home for the next four years: Case Western Reserve University.

He's a Spartan. Just not one of *these* Spartans.

I say "settling in" when I really mean "riding the rollercoasters." Yep. He's kicking off college with a pre-orientation trip to Cleveland's famous Cedar Point amusement park. Talk about letting go. The amusement park trip means sending our son ahead, alone, to begin his new life and meet his new classmates. We'll follow behind in the safe, slow van -- never mind that its nickname is The Mars Rover -- carrying all the stuff that college students need.

It's been an emotional last few weeks. What's speaking to me today is Linda Pastan's poem "To a Daughter Leaving Home." Replace the bicycle with one of the biggest rollercoasters in the United States, and you'll have a perfect metaphor for how it feels to be the one watching from the good, solid ground of home.

College life is going to be a rollercoaster ride.
This one is called Maverick.
To a Daughter Leaving Home
by Linda Pastan

When I taught you
at eight to ride
a bicycle, loping along
beside you
as you wobbled away
on two round wheels,
my own mouth rounding
in surprise when you pulled
ahead down the curved
path of the park,
I kept waiting
for the thud
of your crash as I
sprinted to catch up...

Read the rest at Poetry 180.

To all of the other parents who have teens leaving home for the next big adventure -- group hug!

Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
is hosting Poetry Friday today.
Hi, Tabatha! Good luck to your Vandy girl
as she heads out for her next year of school.


Tabatha said...

I'll be thinking about you and yours over the next week, Laura! We should get together for lunch after Labor Day.

Author Amok said...

Thanks, Tabatha. That would be great! Let's plan as soon as I get back from the drop off.

Linda B said...

Best wishes and hugs, Laura. I've done it twice and remember both times well, though years ago. I made it through, but it is a change, and eventually you'll see your son in a different way. My son is 44 tomorrow, and his son will be entering high school in a few weeks. Where does the time go? I love the poem, have shared it with others through the years, those who will need it.

Sally Murphy said...

Lovely poem Laura. I especially love that handkerchief image in the closing lines. Good luck with the departure and the adjustment. As one who has done it three times (actually more than 3 since one child has left and come back a couple of times) I can tell you life goes on for both of you.

Maureen said...

Oh, it's such a "big" time! I love the poem you really captures the emotions of this time in life. Best wishes for a strong year.

Donna Smith said...

What are you anxious about?
Didn't you know this was going to happen someday?
He can't stay 4 forever...
Why are we surprised by the transitions, the changes, the moving onwards and upwards of life?
They happen all the time to others, and we call it "to be expected".
But like a baby being born, it is expected, but it is not just "to be expected" when it happens to us.
It is a "take your breath away" moment,
a "you can only know this feeling when it happens to you" thing.
And it is always surprising and teeming with anxiety.
Surprise! It's your turn!
But we are never quite ready for our turn, are we?
It's going to be great!

Liz Steinglass said...

That poem is perfect. I'm sure I'll be looking back at this post next August. It's thrilling, right, exciting and a bit terrifying. It's hard to let them go even though that's the whole point!

Buffy Silverman said...

I remember reading that poem six years ago, when my younger one went off to college, and the tears flowing. But you will make it through this transition and your son will soar.

Andromeda Jazmon said...

We used to live outside Cleveland, and often went to Ceder Point. Fun!! Now I am a college librarian getting ready to greet new freshman and upperclassman. So exciting! I am sure your boy will have the time of his life. And maybe you will re-discover things put aside for a while... and find new adventures. The Paston poem is so fitting this time of year. Thanks for sharing it!

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

That poem gave me chills, Laura... I'm in complete denial that this will be me in three years. Sending hugs....

Margaret Simon said...

That hair waving goodbye. Ah, I remember this time all too well. Be solid. Be strong. These are the roots from which he will grow.

Mary Lee said...

I've only ever been the one leaving, so I can only imagine the gift of trust and confidence you give when sending your child off to become an adult.

Author Amok said...

Thanks for all of your kind words, everyone. Those of you who have lived through this experience -- I'm glad to hear it's survivable!

I'm sure we'll all be fine and that our son will do great. This last week together feels so strange, though. It's helpful to have all of your encouragement.

Doraine said...

Don't forget to celebrate a good job of parenting! You did it!