He's Taking My Mama Heart With Him to College

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Is this really happening?

I found myself standing in my son’s room today. Not in a creepy watching-him-as-he’s-sleeping kind of way. Just standing there, looking around at all of his posters tacked to the walls. I see the "Captain" stripes on his letter jacket gently strewn across the chair. Prom pictures of him and his girlfriend are stapled to the wall by his bed.

But something is different: He is leaving for college.

His Pink Floyd, Dave Matthews and Beatles posters are rolled up neatly with a rubber band keeping them safe. His guitar stand is sitting by the door and his guitar is nestled comfortably in it’s hard case. Two big brown boxes sit by the door filled with his lava lamp, some clothes, his x-box, favorite pillows and his Mac. There are no dirty boxer shorts or t-shirts tossed on the floor. There aren’t any empty Dr. Pepper cans on the bedside table. The TV is off.

And the lump that has been growing in my throat for the past three months is suddenly about to burst. He looks over at me and I realize that I’m about to lose it. I exclaim that I need to go stir the spaghetti sauce that has been simmering on the stove for the past three hours. I race down the stairs, bypassing the kitchen altogether, hoping that I can make it to my bedroom before the tears start to flow. Once the sniffles start, it’s a dead giveaway.

Where did the time go? Wasn’t it just yesterday that he couldn’t wait to ride the bus to school for his first day of kindergarten? Wasn’t it just last week that he found a hair under his armpit ( yes that was meant to be singular)? Didn’t he just grow out of the kid’s department at Abercrombie & Fitch?

I watched him grow from a funny and animated little boy into a kind and independent man. He took care of his “mama” after his dad and I divorced, and ultimately became the “man of the house.” Over the next ten years, it was just me and him. I went to every school event: talent shows, teacher conferences, and just about every single hockey game, and of course I was always the loudest mom there. I even took him and his friends on a very memorable camping trip (they didn’t realize that I could hear them talking about Pamela Anderson’s boobs through the paper thin tent walls).

When I finally met my husband, my son carefully “gave me away” at the wedding, knowing that he would eventually be leaving for college and that I had found a wonderful husband to love and share my life with.

Why does this hurt so much? I remember being his exact same age and heading off to college. I was so excited -- just as he is. I know what’s in store for him and I am filled with joy knowing he is going to have such an amazing experience. I’ve given him all of the advice about studying hard, and have even given him the speech that “I’m too young to be a grandma.” I know that this is just the beginning of the rest of his life. But as a mom it’s still a bitter pill to swallow.

So as I stand here looking around his room, the lump in my throat comes back and my eyes start to tear up again. I realize that all of his memories from his younger years are either being left behind or packed away in boxes to take with him, I hope that he knows he will take something else with him that’s even more fragile than his beloved Beatle’s Blue Album.

He’ll take his mother’s heart with him.

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