In exactly four months and nine days my youngest daughter will graduate from college. The final tuition payment will be made January 15. After 25 years of working, saving and dishing out countless dollars, it's just about over. The emotions one feels at this stage in life can be overwhelming.
Obviously there is the relief that we will have "all that extra cash" (I laugh at that as two daughters equals two weddings). But there are other things that I am feeling; most of all that when it's this close to over, I am completely, thoroughly and unequivocally sick to death of every aspect of it imaginable. Here's why.
1) When our children were born we discussed their college education at great length and often. We set up accounts for them. Every month we put money in those accounts. Those accounts were emptied pretty quick when they went out of state. Then we were on our own. Sigh.
2) All through their high school years we worried about their grades, what college they would get into, how they would do on their ACT's, etc. Both girls took those tests several times to achieve the best possible score. Stress.
3) We are an extremely close family. When we dropped off our oldest at Indiana University I felt as though someone had ripped my heart out of my chest, stomped all over it and forgot to put it back. I couldn't believe I would go to sleep at night without her in the house. I imagined her in her dorm room that first night, waking up and wondering where she was. It took me a few months to adjust but I never really did. There was always a little hole in my heart. Sad.
4) The drive to IU was miserable. There was no easy way to get from Indianapolis to Bloomington. Without traffic, close to 5 hours. With traffic? Once it took 8 hours. The school was expensive but one of few that had her major. At least when we visited after Freshman year we could stay with her at her apartment. When she would drive home there was the worry of her being on the road alone. And when she drove back. Spooked.
5) Second daughter decided on Kansas. Great. Another out of state school. Parents of kids who want to go out of state consider this: At least 40 flights if they come home for all breaks. KU has a fall break, Thanksgiving break, Christmas break, Spring break and getting there and back for the school year. Over 4 years thats 20 trips x both ways = 40. Then we visit. Thats another 16 flights if we visit once a year. Plus hotels as we can't stay in her house. Something about a huge house with six girls and one functioning bathroom. Then there's getting her car to school. Ten hour drive. Then in May for graduation we get to stay at the Bedbug Inn as we didn't make our reservations 8 years in advance. And drive there so we can bring all her furniture home. So, since we have funded around 60 round trip flights, we are tired, broke and exhausted. Scary.
6) While both girls were in school which was for a two year period, we adjusted our lives to a routine that admittedly was a bit easier. This has nothing to do with missing them as that never goes away. However, it is easier to live in a house with two people making decisions instead of four. When they came/come home there is a period of adjustment for all. Of course I love it but it takes time. When they're away at school we seem to worry less. We don't wait up until they get home. We don't pace. We can eat a meal with no arguments about what we're eating. Settled.
7) The hardest part about college(for me) is the emotional roller coaster with saying good-bye when they leave and the exhilaration when they come home. This Sunday I will send my daughter back for her last semester. When they are home I love to see their pretty faces when I wake up. I love to kiss them goodnight. I don't care how old they are. So she has been home for nearly a month. I am so used to her being here that the thought of saying good bye AGAIN is maddening. Particularly knowing that the finish line is so close. I can taste the end. Sweet.
Our oldest is now living in the city but she is close. It's different being 40 minutes away instead of 5 hours. She stays at home often so we have the best of both worlds with her. She is gainfully employed in her chosen profession. One down.
If I had anything to change I wouldn't. They have both had the best experience of their lives and it was worth all the work. But I am excited to live a life that no longer includes college since it has consumed us for our entire married life.
Now, about those weddings.....