18 years have passed since theOBinstructed my adoring husband to “Cut the cord!” on our eldest daughter. Having just viewed the child birth from his own front row seat, my adoring husband cautiously stepped forward (hands shaking) and proudly did his duty. When the doctor yelled, “Oh Sh-t, you cut it too short!” I thought my husband was going to faint right there on the delivery room floor.
There are moments that parents look forward to: birth, first words, first steps, preschool, etc. And then there are ones that we dread. In my experience, the latter are times when our little babies pull away and become independent creatures with their own minds (for good or for bad).
This past weekend, my adoring husband and I “cut the cord” once again when we dropped our little baby off at college. The road was long. It included: gathering a year’s worth of 20% OFF coupons from Bed Bath and Beyond to use on three shopping carts full of dorm provisions; not to mention the endless COSTCO runs and CVS visits throughout the summer. Not only did we ensure enough feminine protection products to last our baby through menopause, but I’m fairly certain there were enough supplies to ensure her survival of any natural disaster, including an alien abduction! In order to accommodate the palate of “any female freshman’s must-have goods,” we removed the third row bench from our 2000 Expedition.
We backed our “filled to the brim” 2000 Expedition out of the driveway. This is the same “tank” that our baby learned how to drive in, as evidenced by the mangled bumper from the “backing into a cement block” incident (which took place shortly after she received her driver’s license). We drove cautiously, as if we were taking our newborn home from the hospital. The 2.5 hour drive was unusually quiet. My adoring husband and I were driving down memory lane — 18 years worth of memories flooding our minds, silent tears rolling down our cheeks. While the college girl lay fast asleep in the back seat, ear plugs dangling from her iPod.
Before we knew it, we were unloading our girl and all of her college necessities. Six trips (up and down six flights of stairs) had us too exhausted to worry about the emotional toll. There were beds to be made, clothes to be put away, and pictures to be hung.
It was getting close to dinner time when we urged our college girl to approach some new hall-mates and invite them to dinner. “I don’t really know anyone,” she protested in a soft voice. “Can’t we go to dinner, just the three of us?” Her reluctance brought me back to the first day of preschool, when I was afraid to leave her. My initial reaction was conflicted. On the one hand, I was sad at the thought of my baby as a lonely college girl. On the other hand, she ACTUALLY wanted to spend time with us! After a lovely meal with authentic parent/child interaction, we returned our little girl to her new temporary home; then, my adoring husband and I went back to our hotel to crash.
Fast forward to 8:45 a.m. the next morning … Family Convocation. We arrived and anxiously approached our little girl, hopeful that she managed to navigate the first night on her own. “Was everything OK?” we asked apprehensively. “Are you kidding?” she replied. “I went with all of my new friends to the Aztec Dance and then we went to a frat party. I had the best time of my life!” she exclaimed with renewed vigor. Just then, her cell phone buzzed. “You’re not going to believe this,” she announced, with a smile on her face. “The cutest boy I ever met just sent me a text saying I have beautiful eyes!”