We drove to Athens on Monday to deposit Schuyler at UGA for her freshman year. We were warned, advised, counseled and even scolded that it is an emotional drop-off event and not to get emotional when we said goodbye. Good idea perhaps, but I do not think anything can adequately prepare a family for this time-honored, normal and natural — though gut-wrenching — deliberate separation from a way of life 18 years in the making.
I wonder if the occasion holds more significance for us as older parents. We were almost 40 when Schuyler was born and fully 42 when Isabelle arrived. Maybe younger parents can handle this stuff better than we can. The day was filled with frenetic activities as we helped set up her room with her roomate’s family, but it came to a sudden, jarring halt when the room was done and the three of us needed to depart.
We kept the goodbyes short — it was quiet as we walked from the dorm to the parking garage and I held Schuyler’s hand — but the final hug and kiss was tough. The removal of one-quarter of our family routine has hit me with push-pull waves of emotion. I have never been so utterly excited and thrilled for someone who has achieved a young dream — UGA was Schuyler’s first college choice by a country mile — yet felt so emptly as I realize that a chapter of our family life has closed even as a new one begins.
Georgia is a fantasric university and I am absolutely sure Schuyler is in the right place. She will make great, lifelong friends and will have experiences she will remember for the remainder of her days. It is a good thing that she is there. We will wait like kids on Christmas Eve for chances to visit Athens. We’ll hang our hats on those occasions — and now will take baby steps to begin the process anew with Isabelle, who will live under this roof with us for just three more years herself.
Seasons change and I feel that shift so very keenly now. I am excited for Schuyler and so very proud of her, but will miss the chance to kiss her goodnight this evening.