Taking my oldest son to college for the first time was harder than I thought. My wife and I left with him Wednesday night and moved him in on Thursday. Then, we left.
All the clichés are true; it happens more quickly than you think. I can attest to that. One day you’re putting him on the school bus for the first time, and then almost without blinking you’re hugging him in the dorm parking lot saying good bye. You feel this extreme loss of his presence, knowing that it will never be the same.
But then my 88 year-old father, who did this 7 times, said it’s like he’s starting his next chapter. For some reason that made me feel better, that somehow, for him, he’s getting to start something he’s been waiting a long time to start. I then remember how happy I was for my next chapter after my parents dropped me off at college. These additional perspectives helped me balance my own feelings of loss and fear I felt by dropping him off.
Maybe it should be about him, and not me?
I talk a lot about the “change cycle.” This is a model that tells you no matter how big or small the change is that you are experiencing, science tells us that we always go through the same sequential 6 stages—Loss, Doubt, Discomfort, Discovery, Understanding, Integration. The pace in which one goes through the cycle is dependent on several factors. One thing I like about the model is that just knowing you go through all 6 stages—and you will eventually get to Integration—in of itself is comforting. By using this model, I can self-identify that I am in the Loss and Doubt stages, and that is OK.
This one will take me a while. The text messages and once a week phone calls help too. After we got home, his younger brothers launched a multi-phased project where everyone was switching rooms.
“We keep no shrines,” my mother used to say when the exact same thing happened 45 years ago with my 6 sisters.
Peyton moved into Will’s now empty room. Henry moved into Peyton’s room and Eddie stayed in the room he previously shared with Henry. We moved clothes, dressers, beds–the works. Now the remaining boys all have their own room.
Feels like they moved through the change cycle pretty quickly. Have to love your siblings.