I follow a number of bloggers whose children are going back to school. This time of year, their blogs are stuffed with cute photos of their new outfits, the shiny crayons, the fresh backpacks.
My child is going off to school, too. To college in another part of the country.
He's my last one. As of this coming Monday, I am officially an Empty Nester. I have spent days worrying about how my husband and I were going to handle this, how the two of us were going to deal with the overly quiet house, the loss of hubbub and roughhousing and laughter, etc., etc., etc.
Then, setting the table for the last Friday-night dinner he'll have here at home, it hit me: Having a child go off to college is a blessing and a privilege. Some people never achieve parenthood, even though they long for it. Some children's lives are cut tragically short. Some children grow up, but want nothing to do with going to college, getting an education, making a success. As a parent, I have learned: almost nothing is guaranteed.
And yet: I have been so blessed.
I was blessed with this chubby-cheeked preschooler who loved anything with wheels:
I was blessed with this funny-faced grade schooler with ears too large for his head:
I was privileged to cheer him on in his team sports--first AYSO soccer, then club basketball, then high-school basketball, and finally varsity lacrosse:
I was privileged to watch him grow from a child into a gawky adolescent who loved clowning around:
It was a privilege to watch him come out the other end, a foot taller and far hairier, but STILL clowning around:
It has been a blessing to watch him fall in love with a puppy and bond deeply with it, an archetypal Boy-and-His Dog love affair:
I have been blessed to watch my child turn into a young man. An honorable, intelligent, handsome young man:
It is now my privilege to step back, admire what he has become, and send him out into the world:
He goes off to college with our blessings.
I will always love you, son. Have a wonderful time at college!