While the fall brings the season of the witch, this year it’s also the season of the “lasts” with my youngest child a senior in college: The beginning of September brought the “Last Move-in” to the college dorm. And, this past weekend marked the last Parents’ Weekend, ever!
It wasn’t so much that we had experienced numerous Parents’ Weekends. As my husband reminded me, we had skipped most at our sons’ schools simply because they preferred us to visit without a crowd. But my daughter likes rituals and we had attended since freshman year.
So here we were at the beginning of senior year with a dinner on Friday night and a tailgate and football game on Saturday with my daughter and her five roommates and their parents. I wasn’t the only one sensitive to the lasts; my daughter and her friends were too and continued the ban on any discussion of graduation and the real-world life to follow. They know they are living in the college cocoon and want to prolong that as long as possible.
Some parents seemed a bit wistful too as for many this was their last child in college. One father mentioned that he paid tuition through an automatic 10-payments-annually plan. At first, those 40 deductions from his checking account seemed endless and daunting. Now he’s down to just a few more payments and while happy to be almost done he just shook his head, “It went so fast.” Another parent recalled, “It seems like yesterday we were doing the college tour and just visiting, and now we’re almost done.”
Our daughters standing around the tailgate were a visible reminder that time does fly, especially the older you get. Despite our efforts there’s nothing we can do to stop it. I asked one mother how old her daughter’s siblings are. She laughed and said, “I used to shave a few years off my own age but now that my son is over thirty I’ve started shaving a few off his age! So I have to think about it.”
We can shave the years but to our horror we do (or will soon) have children over 30 and maybe even grandchildren. In the past few weeks, three friends, all 50-something (give or take) announced they were soon becoming grandmothers for the first time. While they were all elated for their children none were exactly thrilled at the thought of being a “grandmother” and all the stereotypes that title brings with it. Having been there, done that, I assured them that they will learn to ignore the stereotype and dote on their grandchildren.
The message that the senior girls (and a few of us parents too) needed to hear was spoken by one of the fathers as we shared a festive Friday night dinner: “Relax, and enjoy your senior year. It’s still 25 percent of your college experience. Don’t worry how fast it’s going, just enjoy the experiences.” Rather than mourn the passing time and how fast it’s gone, I realized we all needed to focus on the present and live in the moment. Still, I’m not discussing graduation plans!