My out of pocket costs for the day: $4 for coffee, $8 for highway tolls, $45 for groceries, $50 for gas, and one daughter – for whom there is no price.
Once again, it was “take your daughter to school day” and emotions were all over the map – mostly mine – reaching the highest heights of Mount Everest and the lowest lows of the Krubera Cave.
None of this experience is new to us, although each time it feels a little different. This is, after all, our younger daughter’s third year in college. Each time one of them leaves, I feel sad. But more often now I also feel elated from watching them grow into themselves. This particular one has been on a growth spurt from the moment she was born at just 6 pounds, and her cognitive development has always been a little ahead of the curve.
So this morning we headed out with a car packed with dorm bedding, a small fridge, a couple of collapsible shelving units, some small appliances, artwork to liven up bland walls, and more clothing than any twenty year old really needs for college life. But there it was, a vehicle sagging slightly under the weight of most of her worldly possessions. All of this stuff had to be trekked up two flights of stairs to her new room, which is actually quite nice for a dorm room. Then we made one more trip to pick up her college bicycle from the friend who kindly stored it in her garage all summer, and made a stop at the supermarket to stock her little refrigerator.
I helped her make her bed, move some furniture, and put together just a few things. Then, knowing that she prefers to organize her own room and her own life, I hugged her goodbye and left. Of course I shed a few tears. I can’t help feeling sad, because she will always be my baby and she is gone again for several months. Some were also tears of joy, because I know so well that this place suits her perfectly. For her part, I am certain she is grateful that I’m past the weeping stage at these departures. (The first time we left our older daughter at college I was sobbing uncontrollably as we drove away.)
Today, when we pulled into the main entrance onto this lovely campus with its ivy covered walls, she said, “It feels good to be home.” For these four years, the university is very much her home. This year she is tackling some new and important responsibilities as a part of the Residential Life team, and that makes her parents proud. She is surrounded at school by people who teach, nurture, and care for her (not as well as we have, but pretty good none-the-less.)
She is in the right place for this time in her life. We see the growth and development in the ways she forges relationships and the way she thinks and behaves. She is growing into a confident, creative, caring, hopeful, purposeful, young woman. She is priceless.
Oh…there are a couple of little items I forgot to include in my initial expense report: 1) the thousands of dollars that we already sent to the school to help pay her way for another semester; and 2) the dollar I spent on a donut with my coffee on the way home, because once in a while on a stressful parenting day it’s okay to eat your feelings of happiness, pride, sadness, and love.