Tonight is the night before the night before the morning that I get up at dark-thirty to move Jill into the Taj Mahal of college living in Tuscaloosa. We have spent her last summer at home purchasing two televisions, a double bed, bedside table, bedding, art, clothing for Recruitment (on the other side, thankfully, this year), shoes, makeup, and everything else that she just absolutely, positively has to have to live life in an apartment with three of her sorority sisters. We will be renting a truck to haul all of this to Tuscaloosa, where we hope she will spend the next three to four years as a permanent resident.
I can hear you laughing, Beve.
Anyway, I'm reflecting on my sophomore year...and how my parents didn't exactly load me up and move me anywhere...much less in a moving truck. I drove the 1973 light blue Mercury Comet with the vinyl top peeling off. If it didn't fit...it didn't go. Life was far simpler then.
We just lived in the dorm, recycled our bedding from freshman year, and had jeans, button down shirts, and a few pairs of Candie's shoes. Granted, we had our 13 inch black and white TVs, stereo systems, and toaster ovens. These kids have a full kitchen, washer and dryer, individual bedroom and bath, 42" television, and a microwave. One of them is even bringing a cat.
The funny thing? I honestly didn't blink when I signed the lease. After paying private school tuition since 1996, I'm just used to not having any money...ever.
Where did things get this out of whack?
My friend called today to inform me that her daughter was on her way to Highlands, N.C. with a friend, and would be vacationing for a few days. And what was my friend doing at the time? Latrine duty.
Another mother I've known recycled her clothing for years and years because she wanted her baby girls to be dressed "pretty." Fortunately, the daughters appreciate and love their mother...and recognize her sacrifices on their behalf. So, while they were dressed in the latest styles, she was wearing the same blue suit purchased five years earlier...and never said a word.
Another friend of mine keeps her granddaughter so that her daughter can work and does not charge her for any supplies or any daycare fees. She wants to make it as easy for her as she can.
I also marvel at a couple who have six grandchildren...none of which live in the area. They spend a tremendous amount of time visiting and keeping children so that their children can have a "break" every once in awhile.
Another has a daughter who took an interest in horseback riding. She now works a full time job and two part time jobs to board the horse and keep the daughter in college.
I've also seen parents who spend days, weeks, months...years at ball fields, cheer gyms, skating rinks, or gyms to support their budding athletes. With travel ball...that commitment now goes year round.
The sacrifices that we make for our children to have the best opportunities that we can afford to give them takes a lot out of us in terms of capital, time, and energy. And at the point where we hit "the wall" and think we cannot do any more...we somehow figure out a way to try to make it happen for them.
Sometimes I believe that we are setting them up for failure in that we cannot bear to see them struggle. If they aren't the athlete they want to be...we will sign them up for private lessons and will invest the time to get them there. If they show any promise whatsoever...we feel that it is our duty to see that through. Often, their interest fades long before ours does. But much like a caterpillar trying to break out of the cocoon...without the struggle...they will lack the strength and stamina they need to make it in this world.
So, on the night before the night before I drop my girl off to University of Alabama...I am resolving to let my caterpillar struggle just a little more this year. Although she is responsible and smart, I want to step back even further and let her run with the details of her life more and more. She will make mistakes. She will even fail at a few things. But...her success will be of her own making.
She's a beautiful caterpillar. I suspect that she will be a breathtaking butterfly. Even if she is sitting in her private room overlooking the massive swimming pool and enjoying life while she "struggles."