Last Monday was the first day of school for my two younger children. Jake is a brand new sophmore, with all the confidence and swagger of a triumphant senior. (Teenagers, am I right?) Noah, king of the first grade, hops somewhere between gentle sweetheart and ninja warrior. My children are phenomenally different, and I like all reasonably good moms, treasure them with everything that makes me, me.
There is one more in my nest, and his name is Jesse. Today was the very first day of his freshman year at the University of Florida (Go Gators!!!) While walking around Gainesville during preview weekend, I felt at times overwhelmed by the understated elegance of this bustling college town, and the tangible accomplishment just waiting within reach of my baby boy’s extended arms.
Here I am, former teen mom turned grown up Realtor, writer and mother of three. My biggest accomplishment to date is that none of my children turned into the harsh statistics I was warned about by Ms. Burke – my high school guidance counselor. (People don’t forget, Ms. Burke. I still hope you regret the HORRID advice you gave me in my time of need!!! #couldntBemoreWrong #IRaisedAWonderfulManAnyway #AlsoIMarriedHisDad #SuckIt) Ahem. I digress.
It would be easy to feel inadequate in a place as steeped in dignity and accomplishment as the campus of U.F., with the sweeping live oak trees draped as they all seem to be in whisps of moss, and the sprawling brick buildings that add character and charm to the natural beauty of Gainesville as a whole. It’s safe to say, I was impressed – but more than that, I felt immediately at home. Jesse will be safe and successful in this place. That is the feeling I was left with, which is as nearly as surprising to me as Jesse was himself, nearly 19 years ago!
It isn’t that I imagined mourning for his absence all the long years post-high school graduation, but I will confess: I really expected to struggle with the not-knowing that comes of more than four hundred miles between our front doors. Finding comfort in the campus was a lovely surprise. Here’s one surprise however that’s less lovely: life continues to moves on without him in it.
School has begun for the two little birdies still in my nest, and we’ve returned to the years old routines of waking up before dawn, singing silly songs in the car during drop off and pick up, negotiations of milkshakes for green days and hanging out with friends for extra chores around the house. But I have one less person in the car to sing with. One less place setting for dinner every night. One less person to share my days with. . .
My unexpected milestone turned out to be just making it through the first first week of school, minus one. It didn’t pass without tears. Or cookies. Or wine. But, I survived. And do you know what? So did everybody else. It’s time for my baby gator to get out there and begin living his own life. I’m just grateful he’s found such an incredible community to help lay this new foundation!
Still, he’d better come home for the new Gilmore revival. Some things should never change! ❤