DH and I took DD to her college today, about 3 hours north of home. The day was long anticipated. The girl and I talked and planned and shopped and packed all summer, it seems. We packed up the van last night and got up early this morning to avoid the traffic, and we set off.
The trip was uneventful. The weather was gorgeous up there today, beautiful clear blue skies, light breeze, warm but not hot.
There was a bit of a fuss in figuring out where to park to reach her dorm, since it's in the middle of a large area near the quad, and has no actual roads going by it. Later there was more bother trying to figure out how she's going to get to her new job from her dorm, because the way you would drive there (which we were doing) is not the same as how you would walk there, which is what she will do.
We unpacked everything, set up much, did a brief shopping run at Target, got some lunch... somehow we stretched it out to nearly 4PM (we'd arrived on campus just after 10AM), surely we didn't have to take so much time! None of us minded, I think, because we knew when we drove away that it would be the longest time ever we would be apart.
I held her close when it was finally time to go, "Stay safe!" She's tall, as tall as I am, but she's so slightly built. I worry, especially since the campus is pretty empty right now: official move in dates don't start for a few days. Her job wanted her up there a few days early for training, and we were quite happy to take her up on the weekend, so we wouldn't have to take time off from work...
I didn't really cry, but I am feeling that ache, nostalgia. Time goes by so fast! It seems we get so little time with our children, especially as they get older, and quoting Henry Jones, Sr: just when they're getting interesting. I'm so happy for DD and excited for her to start this part of her life, especially in a place she loves so much. But I'm feeling a bit mournful for the changes I'm facing, the things we used to do together that I'll be doing on my own now. Of course I can plan the meals and do the grocery shopping, but DD's delight in these tasks was contagious. She was thoughtful and often inspired, and the entire family benefited from it.
Of course we have been texting already, as there are a few things she left behind I will be mailing to her. I know we'll keep in touch, and she'll be home for Thanksgiving (most likely not before.) The time will go by quickly, as I have much to do, and in all honesty, it will be better for me to have fewer distractions around the house. (Especially distractions that I know are leaving soon!)
Change is always hard, even when they are good. DS2 is now our only-child-at-home, as DS1 headed back to campus last week, too. I'm used to that, and he's less than thirty minutes away. The house feels empty, and I'm thinking about how to cook and shop for only three people, only one of whom (me!) brings lunch from home to work. It's going to take a little while for this new version of home life to feel normal, and for the nostalgia to fade back to its usually tolerable level.