Looking Forward

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Mr._Magorium

Remember the movie, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium? Near the end, Mr. Magorium instructs Molly Mahoney to “turn the page, continue reading… and let the next story begin.”

Whether I look at this part of my life as the next story or just the next chapter, I’m definitely in a major transition and I can relate to Molly’s reluctance to accept the inevitable change.

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Driving Marissa to college, the back (and around her seat) loaded with her stuff, including a giant stuffed penguin.

Just this past weekend, David and Marissa and I drove to BYU-Idaho where we settled Marissa into her apartment, which she shares with five other girls. We unpacked her belongings, placing everything on the shelves, drawers, built-in desk or in the open closet.

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Walking around Idaho Falls. It’s hard to see, but one of our temples is in the background.

We made a few trips to the local Walmart and one trip to Albertson’s to stock her up on basic groceries and other necessities, such as cleaning products and bedding. The multiple shopping sprees happened because there were other college related activities going on in between (picking up her student card, meeting mentors, etc.) so we were on limited time frames, plus we kept discovering things we hadn’t anticipated, such as the desire for bed risers (so she can store stuff under her bed). The stores were bursting with other parents shopping with/for their college kids. We were all on the same mission, buying many of the same items, which were getting picked over fast. Popular items such as pancake mix, Pam spray, individual plates, bowls and mugs, and fingernail clippers were scarce!

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Returning to her apartment after our only shopping trip together.

We attended the parent orientation where tears threatened as I took in the sea of parents and students surrounding us. I was thinking dark thoughts, taking myself back in time when I was 18, fresh out of high school and clueless about what to do next with my life. I didn’t have supportive, loving parents encouraging me along the way. I knew college was a long shot, but I had to get away from home. I had no money, no guidance and honestly, I was burned out from just surviving high school. So I took a job for the state of Colorado, as a roommate to a deaf mom and her eight-year old son. They had been rescued from an abusive family and placed under the care of the state. My job was to help the mom become as independent as possible. Sadly, I knew more sign language than she did. We quickly became friends as I helped her cook and clean and be a responsible mommy. I knew how to parent because I cared for my younger brothers and raised my baby sister. But I digress…

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Driving through Zion’s national park on the way back to Tucson.

I could tell my baby girl was holding back tears of her own when we hugged farewell on Saturday morning, after taking her to breakfast. I cried all the way back to our house in Utah, where we picked up our son, loaded our own things in our car, hugged our oldest daughter farewell, and began our drive back to Tucson. (We said goodbye to our oldest son over Labor Day weekend.)

Just the three of us. I now have three college kids living independent lives. I’m now raising a sort of “only child” for the next five years. And this mama is on a roller coaster ride! Letting go of my kids, watching them spread their wings and soar, is natural and for the best, but it is most heart wrenching thing I’ve ever done as a mother. It brings me joy to see them taking full responsibility for their lives, pursuing their dreams and especially continuing to live our gospel values, but oh how I miss having them around on a daily basis, seeing their smiles and receiving their hugs.

I don’t know what it’s like to have a mother who misses me and yearns to hear from me and be a part of my adult life. What I do know is that I’m going to find joy in this next chapter of my life. I’ll probably continue to have a few weepy moments, and I can tell my son is in a bit of a funk right now, missing his big sister terribly as they are best friends, but we’re going to embrace this new homeschool year together (which we can finally ease into tomorrow now that we’re back in AZ),  and we’re going to look forward to each and every text and phone call from the college kids, and especially to spending Thanksgiving and Christmas altogether as a family.

So, here’s to turning the page.