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Loving and loss

I had a dream:

My family was in Paris. We were on our way to see a friend, who’d rented an apartment there on Forest Ave. (As it goes in dreams, all the street names were borrowed from Palo Alto!) My family and I were going there, but somehow we got separated and I was alone. Everyone around me was a tourist; no one knew anything. I tried to use my Google, but it kept sending me around in circles. “I know,” I thought. “I’ll call Abe!” I tried to use my phone, but it wouldn’t work.

“Oh, no,” I lamented, “I’ve lost my Abe!”

I woke up.

My favorite lil’ guy photo.

Not surprisingly, this dream happened in the early morning hours on the day that we were taking our firstborn to college. It’s a happy day, but it’s also the saddest: we’ve finished the job, and our son is leaving our house.

True: I know all the things you’re thinking. He’ll be back soon enough. He’s not going far away. This is just a natural part of life.

All true. But it’s also the official break with his childhood. It’s the official start of his adult life. It’s the very real experience of not having anyone to call on to take the garbage out.

My husband and I would jokingly call him “the man upstairs” in the last year. His bedroom was upstairs, and if we needed anything done, we’d text “the man upstairs” to get it done. It was great to have another adult in the house, but it was also clear that it was time for him to strike out on his own.

This is the sweet-n-sour taste of a job well done. When we send our kids off into the world, we feel good about it. We know that they will do the best they have with what they’ve got to start with (same as we did). We know that we’ve given all we could possibly give.

But we also know it’s an end. They’re going off to their own lives. The cycle starts again, and we think, misty-eyed, about our own college experiences.

And then they’re gone.

And we’ve lost. But we’ve also won.

Posted in Parenting.

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