For many women, midlife signals the end of 24/7 mothering as children leave the nest. This month, our Wednesday feature blogs will focus on letting go and preparing for the next stage of our lives…along with the identity changes that come with it.
Sending a child off to college can awaken fear and dread in the hearts of moms everywhere. In our case, though, we had little time to think about it! My husband has twins, a boy and a girl, who enrolled at two different universities, one in Texas and the other in New York.
As an aside, people always assume that twins would want to go to the same school, but ours are polar opposites in personality, and they share little in common other than their mother’s womb. Sarah planned to study art at Parson’s School of Design, and Joe’s interests run toward emergency management.
I had already learned lessons about raising twins: first, you can’t learn from your mistakes in parenting, so each twin gets the benefits and curses of our parental learning curve. Mine in particular was steep, as I met them in their senior year of high school, with no prior parenting experience. I think we all did remarkably well, considering…but that’s another story for another day.
We had already been through college applications, prom, and graduation, but entering a university added its own challenge. They both needed to show up at school at the same time! This triggered an elaborate plan I now call The World Tour so that we could give them both a proper send-off.
Henry flew to New York with Sarah while Joe and I caravanned on a drive from Houston to Arlington, Texas. Joe checked in to his dorm, helped by the upperclassmen of UT-Arlington who volunteered to help new students get settled, so my job was more symbolic, one of “being there.”
Once Joe was settled in, I flew from DFW airport to New York, where Henry picked me up. He had helped Sarah move in to her dorm, and we attended a Parents’ Weekend program at Parson’s, where we learned, primarily, that universities don’t talk to the parents due to privacy laws. We had the odd sensation of getting nudged out of their lives—a necessary but not always easy adjustment.
On Sunday, Henry and I flew to DFW, where we had lunch with Joe, allowing Henry to give his son the official send-off. Then we drove back to Houston. On the way, we learned that Henry’s mom was in the hospital, and we started to get a taste of life in the Sandwich Generation…again, another story for another day.
Since that time, Joe’s and Sarah’s schedules have not converged in the same way again. In the years that followed, they had slightly different timetables for moving in and moving out. Thank God they graduated at different times! We are now getting used to their status as young adults, striking out on their own, and The World Tour has gone from stressful event to part of the family lore.