Recently, I wrote about Anna leaving for college and talked about how it was difficult but that it was also good.
That wasn’t just for keeping face.
Since she’s been gone, I have been good.
Really good, in fact.
So good that at times it kind of scares me.
Like, is this it or are there more emotions on the horizon?
I do think therapy is the “drug” that is getting me through this change.
Because I am still not evolved enough to believe this is all ME.
I said to my therapist two weeks ago that I feel like I am on medication (I am not medicated), because old me would never react this way.
She said I was, I was on therapy.
It turns out that I am an anticipatory anxious person in addition to just being anxious in general.
I am more upset with events happening than the actual events themselves.
For example, the week of Anna’s departure for college, I was a hot pile of steaming doggy poop.
Crying while cooking ground beef for dinner.
Crying while grocery shopping in the frozen foods section.
Crying in my car when a Shania Twain song came on the radio that Anna loved when she was two.
I didn’t know how I was going to get through this, quite honestly. It felt like I was dying, and I swear I am not being dramatic.
I was having physical side effects in addition to just the general sadness I was feeling. There were days when my chest felt tight, I was nauseous, my hands were sweaty. Normal people would be all OMG AM I HAVING A HEART ATTACK? but I was OMG AM I HAVING A PANIC ATTACK?
I did feel like I should keep most of that to myself because who wants to see their mom spontaneously combusting over their leaving?
Oh sure, tears would squeak out here and there, and on the night before Anna left we did sit in my bed and have a massive cry together.
I feel like there is this pressure to be “good” all the time for our children but they need to see this stuff too.
Life isn’t always happy and that is okay.
The night before we left to take her to college, I took an anti-anxiety pill to help me sleep.
I knew I wouldn’t be any good to anyone if I had little sleep on such an emotionally charged day.
I also realized that her move-in day wasn’t about me and my feelings but rather about her and her feelings.
The next morning I was unusually calm (because of the pill the night before, no doubt) and that helped things.
It was as we were an hour and a half into the drive that Anna started getting nervous and made a comment about how maybe she wasn’t doing the right thing.
It was as I was convincing her that it was indeed the right thing, that she needed to give it a try, that this was what she wanted, remember? that I realized how much I have changed.
Old me might have said, “do you want to turn around?” or “I don’t want you to leave either!!!” or “you can always go to the community college”.
Yes, I realize how toxic that sounds and it embarrasses me that I would even possibly say that.
But this new-to-me me was actually convincing her to leave.
YES MICHELE, TOTALLY!
It’s like I didn’t even know who I was!
Again, might have been the anti-anxiety pills after effects but I choose to believe it was more me than the little white pill.
We moved her in, took her to lunch (with my ex-husband in tow, so maybe it was the meds), did a Target run for last minutes, then I got some alone time in with her in her cozy bed while Mike ran to Target yet again to get her a fan because he didn’t feel like the fan she had was good enough.
After saying goodbye in the lobby of her dorm, Mike and I walked out to the bookstore across the courtyard to do a little take our mind off things shopping.
It’s a thing.
We ended up using the restrooms there but I wasn’t really feeling the shopping thing (I KNOW), so we walked to the parking garage where our car was parked.
I saw Anna’s leftover food bags in the car and proceeded to sob. The kind of sob where you shake, then lose your breath and just let it all out.
Mike put his hand over mine, let me sob, and we left the town our girl was now calling home.
I was about five minutes away from the parking garage when I stopped crying and recovered.
I didn’t cry the rest of the way home.
I did talk to my husband, texted family and friends, and actually enjoyed the rest of the ride.
I got to the part I dreaded, seeing Anna’s room when we got home, and I was actually fine.
Maybe it was because Ella was there, Buddy was jumping on us excitedly, and life was moving on as it should.
I may have some sad days here and there, as this whole thing is an adjustment, but life is going on, things are getting done, and I am enjoying having a new role in Anna’s life.
Mom to a child who lives away from the nest.
I am learning how to be a better listener, to be more patient, and trying hard to be not at all suffocating.
I am also learning to not compare my journey with Anna along with other moms and their journeys. (That is hard, by the way)
I don’t hear her voice every single day now, which was a little unnerving at first but I am learning (thank GOD for Google, my therapist, and the like), that it is normal and healthy even.
I am letting go.
I still have mom moments like when she sprung it on me that she and a big group of friends were traveling to another college three hours away to visit friends and told her TEXT ME BEFORE, AFTER AND DURING THE ROAD TRIP.
But for the most part, I am falling into this role really well and dare I say, I rather enjoy this time.
I was afraid my mom role for Anna was over, but quite the contrary.
It’s just beginning.