Sunday, September 27, 2015

In the Thick of It

Lately there is something very wrong with me. I suspect that the diagnosis is parenting a high school senior. I was foolish to anticipate myself a parent who would navigate a child's leaving for college with relative grace and equanimity.

How else but by this diagnosis can I explain the near crippling anxiety I am feeling this year? I have not even begun to consider the financial implications of sending a child to university. The numbers petrify me. A complicated family arrangement means that I have some assets in another state, but they are not liquid, and I don't know how to declare or otherwise deal with them, so I procrastinate. And I procrastinate. In this I am not unlike my senior.

Money or its lack aside, because I've pushed it away, I watch the stress worm its way across my senior's face: the winnowing down of a bigger list of schools into a smaller list of schools, the teacher recommendations, transcript requests, the score reporting, the organizational finesse (never his strong suit, organization) required to handle the logistics of all this on top of enrollment in several AP courses (his choice, not mine). I want to cry for him, and for me.

Mostly, though, I want to take my son by the hand and ask him if he wants to play with Legos. Or maybe have a mid-morning snack. Followed by a blessedly long nap. And this time around I will take my nap when he takes his.


I don't need advice. This is hard, and I understand the reasons why. Here, consider this: I am in the unenviable position of nagging my kid to complete paperwork the goal of which is to remove him as an occupant of our home. Then ask yourself: Is it any wonder that I can't quite catch my breath? Yes, the diagnosis is clear. And the treatment, well, I suppose that's clear enough, too. The treatment is time. Try as I might, I cannot view this year as anything other than a year to be endured, which layered on top of the anxiety makes me grieve, for the year that might have been, the year that was, if only in my imagination.


Threeundertwo said...

One of the college prep books we picked up had a hilarious letter to parents in it. Basically it said "this is all going to be a disaster." Despite all the planning and careful parenting all these years, we are leaving this momentous life decision in the hands of 18 year olds who can't possibly have a real clue what they want to do with their lives.

So we roll with it. Fill in the FAFSA the best you can. Nod and bite your tongue when they consider notorious party schools. Fix them a good breakfast before AP tests.

This year is the final trial of parenting, and it is as hard as pregnancy and birth were for some of us. If we felt the stress and anxiety any less, I think it would mean we loved them less.

Tanis said...

It's so hard. The entire senior year. And then the goal is realized and the child leaves and while it is a moment of huge celebration, I have found it's equally one of grief and anxiety. The two maddening years I spent chasing children out of my house and into colleges were hard, yet weirdly wonderful (it's always the small moments) but the first three months of them being out of the home and away at college were THE WORST. Brace yourself, a storm is coming. But thankfully, it passes quickly and you will be amazed and thrilled with the new relationship you develop with your now adult child.

Melissa Hicks said...

They go off. Chase dreams...women...They Skype. They come back. They still love you. This I know.

Christine said...

Only 3 short years away for me, and I already feel the nerves and melancholy of it all. Hugs to you, mama.