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Back to school: Headed to college – and that’s how it should be

By Katya Lezin
Correspondent

I’m buying extra long twin sheet sets, warning my child to beware the Freshman 15, and writing checks that induce minor panic attacks – again.

I’m sending another child off to college.

Hannah, 18, who graduated from East Mecklenburg High School in May, is heading to Davidson this month.

Noah, 20, a junior in the Honors College at UNC Chapel Hill, is already on campus for residential adviser training.

That leaves Eliza, 14, the only child left at home. It is not a role she relishes.

Recently my husband and I were harping on her for something and she said, “So this is what it’s going to be like.”

She didn’t look happy about the prospect of having both of her parents’ undivided attention.

As I wander past empty rooms, I reflect on the fact that sending children off to college is as much a rite of passage for the parents as it is for their college-bound kids. Just as Noah and Hannah are navigating newfound independence and life away from home, I am adjusting to a day-to-day existence that does not revolve around them.

This transition is rendered more difficult by the fact that I genuinely enjoy my children.

I do not suffer from boredom or a lack of things to do. I am not struggling with redefining my role or my priorities. I simply miss them.

They are smart and witty and overall great human beings, and not having them at the dinner table or under the same roof is a gaping hole in my life.

It is one I will have to embrace or at least accept. While Noah and Hannah ended up at schools that are a manageable distance from Charlotte, allowing us to visit their for theater and concert performances or a meal, they have begun chapters in their lives that include forging new relationships that do not involve me. They will begin to spend more time away from home than in it. Indeed, their very notion of home will change, as mine did.

This is as it should be.

We raise our kids with the hope they will be confident, self-sufficient adults. We hope all the economizing we do for their higher education pays off in providing the best four years of their lives and developing successful and contributing members of society.

We want them to be independent.

But that’s the big picture. It doesn’t take away the sting of seeing them off. Soon I will adjust to the eery quiet of a house that no longer has bickering siblings. I will make smaller meals, now that it’s just three of us sitting at the dinner table, and I will take over chauffeur duties now that the extra drivers are gone.

I will relish the calls, emails and texts reporting on classes and roommates, and I will trudge to the post office to fulfill pleas for forgotten items and chocolate chip cookies.

I will tell them I miss them, but they will never know how much.

Katya Lezin is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Katya? Email her at bowserwoof@mindspring.com.
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