Not that we’re done parenting, not with one daughter in college and two still at home. We’re not done by a long shot, nor do I ever think we’ll ever truly be “done.” But taking our oldest to college in Washington, DC last weekend was no less a milestone than her very first day of school thirteen years ago.
In a few weeks we will all make the trip down for the university’s family and friends weekend, so we’ll get to see how our daughter is doing first hand, and her sisters will get to see a little more “up close and personal” what college life looks like. Whether she comes home for Thanksgiving is a little up in the air. It’s also only been a couple of days, so I’m sure there will be times we will miss having her around, and she may find herself a little homesick after the initial excitement wears off, but we’ve seen the beginning of the next big transition in our lives.
After all the build-up, all the people saying what an emotional moment leaving your child – especially your first – at college was for them, I have to say I found it pretty anti-climactic. Maybe the week and a half of leave-taking before the move, combined with the long trip down, knowing that there was a long trip back, that our daughter had already been to orientation and had contact with her roommate, and that we had been to orientation, too, all prepared us better than we thought. Maybe it hasn’t really sunk in yet. Maybe I’m just cold and heartless. Okay, maybe that last one is overdoing it a bit.
After driving down to Washington all day Friday, the moving in on Saturday was efficient and remarkably not stress-inducing. We managed to get where we needed to be, had student volunteers cart all of our daughter’s things up to her room, got to chat with the university president’s wife and “first” dog (the president was off helping other students move in somewhere), and generally helped with the de-packing and organizing. We did some minor erranding in the afternoon, found a nearby Safeway, and then we were off doing separate things – our daughter with her roommate/suitemates, and us to our own devices.
We had heard that the burial procession for Senator Kennedy would be winding its way through Washington. Since we were staying only a couple of blocks away from motorcade’s route, we walked down to Constitution Avenue and waited. Being at the far end of Constitution Avenue, just up from where the motorcade turned down 23rd toward the Lincoln Memorial, there weren’t as many people as I might have thought, but still quite a few.
We all stood as the procession went by, Senator Kennedy’s flag-draped casket visible in the back of the hearse, and waved back at the family members calling out “thank you” to the crowd. It was fortunate that we were around to be part of that.
Sunday we met our daughter to go to mass at nearby St. Stephen’s, made another trip to Safeway, and, before we knew it had said goodbye and she was gone, off to another event or activity. It wasn’t until we stopped for something to eat outside of Baltimore that we looked at each other as if to say, “what happened?” Not that there weren’t a couple of teary-eyed moments, but it all happened so fast. We talked to her the next night, listening to her talk about her first day of classes and meeting other people, and we have already had to pack up and ship a few things she forgot.