Well, it’s official. Tabitha is going to college. She sent in the enrollment deposit tonight.
It’s not a surprise, of course. We’ve all been working toward this for a long time, especially Tabitha. She’s done well in school. She is a blur of extra-curricular activities. She took all the standardized tests and then some. We looked at a pile of colleges – big ones, small ones, urban ones, small-town ones. It’s been a ride, in some cases literally as we drove across the miles.
It’s a strange thing to have it so definite, though. To know the timeline. The last time we visited that campus, in March, they had a day of various sessions designed to answer whatever questions might come up about the curriculum, the financing, the resources available, and – last but not least – the timeline of what needed to happen to go from “admitted student” to “enrolled student attending classes.” I know exactly when move-in date is.
They’re actually pretty clever about move-in, this college. I have to hand them that. They schedule the morning and early afternoon for things that the students and parents can do together, and then there is a cutoff time that is specifically designated for parents to Go Away. “You can do things around town if you’d like,” they said at the session, “but you can’t be on campus where your child will be, doing things that new students need to do.”
“Like not be with their parents,” was the unspoken rest of that sentence.
It is a big thing, to send your child off to the next stage of her life. I remember my dad saying that at some point your job as a parent was just to be a home base, a place in the world where they could always return and find love and comfort, but not the center of their lives anymore. I remember being on the other side of that, once upon a time. And now everyone has moved up a generation and I’m the one who will be keeping the home fires burning.
That’s as it should be. But it doesn’t make it any less of an odd thing, after all this time. As a parent, you remember. You remember the child, even as the adult emerges. And you let go, trusting that she will return, on her own terms this time.
She seems happy with her decision, and I hope she is excited. It’s a big step, after all.
Congratulations, Tabitha. I’m proud of you.