It has been a long time since I wrote on the blog for which I am truly, truly sorry but there has been a good reason. My eldest chick has flown this nest but the run up to him spreading his wings and actually going has been all encompassing from writing the longest to-do list ever (yes even longer than when I was waiting for him to arrive into the world) to spending literally days on Pinterest looking at top 1000 ‘dorm room hacks’.
It’s been exactly 4 weeks since I dropped him in his dorm room at his American university. I kind of went into overdrive, totally taken in by the huge ‘starting college’ industry/shopping craze over in the USA. What – you haven’t bought a waffle bed topper, bed bug protecter, goose-down comforter and industrial fan that all match his dorm room colour scheme (white breeze block)? I wanted to make sure he had everything in case I was labelled a BAD PARENT plus have you seen the cost of shipping a forgotten winter coat, some dairy milk and a bag of twiglets to the US?!
It all felt very alien, not only because we were in the US but also because I really struggled to recall my only university days to use as a point of reference (clearly destroyed all memories of that period in a haze of Snakebite and Black). I spent a while fantasizing that I was actually in a couple of my favourite 80s films St Elmo’s Fire or Animal House as we walked past Delta Kappa, the refectory and the quad. His room was not bad. My husband and I made his bed which was like the Princess and the Pea with multiple layers added to the 2 inch thick college mattress. Helped him unpack and hang up his clothes (it’s only when you unpack them all that you realise they have way too many clothes). Pinned up his photos and then inevitably went shopping for MORE essential college stuff (he felt like he wasn’t taking it seriously unless he had some folders even though I had just bought him a top of the range laptop).
We had a last lunch where I could feel the tension building of saying ‘THE GOODBYE’. He was happy which was the main thing and I was happy he was happy. I shed a few tears, hugged and with that he was gone. We flew home 24 hours later and that was when it hit me. Over-wrought and tired from no sleep on an overnight flight, cold and rainy back in the UK I just felt like everything was crap. Why on earth had I agreed to allow him (yea, right!) to go to uni so far away? Why had I done this to myself? I went to bed and wrestled with the rational vs irrational sides of my brain for a couple of hours. Thankfully rational had won by the time I woke up – he is 18 now, an adult and in charge of his own destiny.
Over the following week every time someone asked me about him, my eyes pricked with tears. I thought about him constantly – woke up thinking about him, and thought about him before bedtime. Wanting to contact him but not too much. Thank god for What’s App – we can have a quick chats without it being onerous on him. Then at the weekend we have a long FaceTime which I really look forward to. After about 10 days he told me he felt homesick and I found this hard even though I knew it would pass. My maternal instinct was to make it all fine but I do believe that we should face up to negative emotions and try and understand and accept them rather than deny them and smooth them over. Four weeks in there has been a small but definite change and he is seems happier, settled into a routine and making friends.
And me? I am feeling ok! There is less of the shitty domestic stuff I hate like washing, hanging out kit, endless food purchasing. I have more blocks of time that I didn’t have before that I have yet to fill with something meaningful (i.e. not Twitter) and it is in those moments that I think not about him, but what has passed – his childhood and everything wrapped up with it. I still have a smaller chick at home but he needs me less and less. I asked my husband ‘what did we do at the weekends before we had kids?’ Sleep in, get drunk, nurse a hangover. I don’t intend doing that again so I feel quite liberated that like him, I have a blank page to fill.