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Anyone who has had a child knows “the bag” the one that sits, at the ready, for days or even weeks waiting for the “big event.” The one that contained symbols of the new roles that husband and wife would be taking on — the first outfit, the knitted hat, the snuggly blanket, as well as all the mom stuff that the new mother would need while she was being overwhelmed by those first hours of motherhood.
Here’s that bag for me.
It’s a great bag that my sister bought for me for the baby shower. It not only still exists but it has taken many journeys with our expanding family over the years. Somehow, it seemed appropriate that the bag that brought everything to the hospital when he was born should be the bag that went with us when we delivered TJ to the next big phase of his life. And so, “the bag” accompanied us to Burlington — a symbol of what had been and what was yet to be.
We were off, truck packed and the five of us enjoying a ride through the mountains to TJ’s new home for the school year. It didn’t take long for us to get him unpacked and for him to turn the contents of those boxes, foot lockers and duffle bags into his new digs. By the time we returned with lunch in hand and perishables for his new fridge, he had transformed the stark space into a very comfy spot, very “TJ”.
Everyone says that saying goodbye and leaving your child at college is hard, but the goodbyes weren’t very different from goodbyes when we’ve dropped the boys off elsewhere. Hugs and small talk. Last minute thoughts, a heartfelt “I love you”. Despite the admonitions from everyone including the parking attendants “Mom, no crying!” when we first pulled in, there were no tears. I am very proud of TJ and all that he has accomplished. He deserved to enjoy that day without a blubbering mom in the background or the foreground and I delivered. What was difficult is the coming home to TJ not being here. When we pulled into the driveway, my thought was “oh TJ’s home” when I saw his truck sitting there…only to realize that “no, he wasn’t home, that’s just his truck”. So, the long and short of it, is while TJ got the “no tear” send-off from his mom, the rest of the family hasn’t been so lucky since we’ve been home.
I’m mopey, I admit it. No one but another mom understands that it’s hard to share your life and for the better part of a year, share your very body with another person occupying the same space without feeling sad that things will never be the same. Will things be different? Yes. Will things be better? Maybe. Will you be proud of your child and their accomplishments? Absolutely.
But your family will never be the same configuration and chemistry and you will never be the same person as you were when you got in the car for that ride to college. We all know it’s coming. It might as well be printed on that bag that accompanies you to the hospital for the birth. It’s implicit in the very definition of parenting. The process of promoting and supporting the physical,emotional, social, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood. From the second we are “officially” parents at the birth, it is a process of independence, of teaching another human being to be self-sufficient and in so doing, tearing yourself away from that person that you have created.
Leaving TJ at the door to his dorm, there was not a cell in my body that wasn’t happy for him and confident that Tom and I had done the best job we could in the preceding 18+ years in preparing him for this next journey. There wasn’t a part of me that wasn’t swelling with pride at the young man he has become. At the same time however, there are just as many cells yearning to freeze time and protect the familiar part of my life. In the days that follow “drop off” there will be adjustment…contrary to the “how to” books, it won’t be so much for the college student as for the college student’s mom.
Yesterday, we officially entered a whole new world. While we knew it was going to happen in some fashion, still it is exciting and scary all at the same time. Our oldest son got his first college acceptance. To say that he was excited is an understatement. While we had no doubt that he would be going to college, the where is always a question. During this past summer he spent a month taking a summer college class up at University of Vermont. He fell in love with Burlington and the university and clearly would be very happy spending the next four years of school there — and if all goes well the length of medical school there too. While there are many more on the list waiting to be heard from, this is special because it is proof to him that he is worthy of college and to get your first acceptance at the place that you like, well — that’s even better. Will he wind up there? Time will tell. (Well money too, but that’s another story).
A whole new world just opened up for him and we are very proud. A whole new world happened for us too — and I suddenly feel very old. Very proud but old.
Where did the time go?
Seems like only yesterday he looked like this –
Oldest son has been delivered (with parental escorts) to UVM where he will be spending July partaking in Summer College. His home for the month is the lovely Converse Hall, which is a building with a lot of apparent history. It is referred to as the “stone castle” and is indeed very castle-like. Much in the spirit of castles, it is well– allegedly haunted by spirits. Well, one spirit at least. Henry.
Henry evidently is a former UVM medical student who during the 1920s, feeling overworked and overstressed, allegedly hung himself in the attic of the dorm building. According to the Vermont Cynic, Henry is the most famous of the ghosts that inhabit the university and students in the dorm. He is a mischievous prankster according to reports and although his presence has been felt, he has supposedly not been seen. Doors opening and closing, footsteps where there are no people to be seen and objects moving from one place to another are the hallmarks of Henry.
We’ve dropped two of the boys there so far this summer as fate would have it. Tyler spent his week at Advanced Medquest living in Converse Hall and TJ will be living up there for the month while he is taking a college course during their Summer College program.
Doesn’t he just look so darn handsome?
I love it when the men in my life allow me to take their pictures (without scowls or annoyed faces, of course). We had a great time, had some great food and then I headed onto Montpelier alone to take a multi-day training seminar on collaborative law which was very interesting. The men hung around Burlington longer and then headed back.
Sadly though, going on alone also meant dining alone…. with a good book. It occurred to me as I spread myself out in my hotel room that I believe it is the first time that I ever stayed in a hotel alone…..weird isn’t it to think that I have walked upon this earth 48 years and never stayed alone in a hotel room — or lucky. I prefer to think of it as lucky. I have always been fortunate to have someone along for the ride.
On Friday, Tim participated as part of his Chambers Music ensemble in the Mid Winter Madrigal Festival Concert in Burlington. He and his ensemble performed wonderfully. The church hosting the event that evening resonated with the sweet sounds of 250 high school chambers singers. Each group sang individual programs and then they all joined together for a 250-strong chorus to perform the final songs of the evening.
We spent the afternoon and evening up in Burlington in order to finish up some Christmas shopping and enjoy the concert. It was well worth the trip.
This Wednesday is the MRU winter vocal concert and Tim has a solo performance. We are very proud and looking forward to listening to him sing.
Here are some pictures from the Madrigal Festival.
I found the most awesome little Asian/Thai grocery in the North End. It was fantastic and gave me my fix for Thai, sushi and stir fry supplies. This store is so tiny yet packed to the gills with everything. They had practically the contents of H-Mart in a store the size of Mac’s.
All kinds of noodles, fresh and dried, Thai tea, too many things to even attempt to list. I am so excited.
We were driving in Burlington yesterday and this caught our eye. A car with its own rooftop garden. As we were stopped at a light, I looked over and yes, the car had tomatoes growing on its roof. Pretty ingenious idea to take your garden with you. Imagine the possibilities for time management – stuck at a railroad crossing waiting for a train or waiting at school for an overdue kid – weed the garden, pick tonight’s salad, thin those seedlings.
It wasn’t some gimmick car advertising something either – just someone who evidently felt the need to take their tomatoes for a ride.
The possibilities are endless.
Okay, so for the rest of you out there, it’s not really a big city, like Boston or New York or San Francisco are big cities; but for us Vermonters, Burlington is the big city, both literally and figuratively. It is the largest city in the state of Vermont and the closest thing we have to a big city (shopping, restaurants, the arts, etc.). The boys made their annual trek to University of Vermont’s Engineering Merit Badge Day and we made it a family trip by going up yesterday after school and spending last night and today up there in the big city. We went to the two malls (which are a step above the mall we have around here but bear no resemblance whatsoever to the malls of New Jersey and New York – and I am sure the rest of the country) with the boys who were quite happy to trapse in and out of the various stores that they don’t get to see anymore unless we are in Burlington or in the NY metropolitan area visiting family. Tom and I got a chance to meander around Church Street and vicinity, enjoying the open air and the holiday decorations and doing mostly just window shopping with the exception of Bruegger’s Bagels and a splurge at Lake Champlain Chocolates.
While we were there we had the pleasure of listening to a TubaChristmas concert. TubaChristmas is a series of concerts performed throughout the country by groups of tuba players. It originated in 1974 as a tribute to artist and teacher William J. Bell who was born on Christmas Day.
Although I videotaped it, WordPress is not cooperating with the upload of it. If I can get it to work at a later date, I will upload the video.
This picture was taken about two weeks ago. Today, hardly a leaf remains on any of the trees and the breeze has gotten downright cold. You can feel winter in the air, even on the “warm” days where the temperatures reach the 50s.
We just got back from a couple days in Burlington with the boys and Tom’s parents. We went up so the boys could get their dose of shopping at all those stores that teenagers love, with all those crazy shirts and goofy gifts. We also got some clothes and had a good time eating out. We had Thai food at Parima in Burlington and got the treat of a performance by Rebecca Williams. We enjoyed her music and good food.
The boys enjoyed walking Church Street and taking in all the people and all the sights. Overall, we had a good time and everyone seemed happy.
The strangest thing happened to me. The boys are off from school in a couple weeks for a teacher conference. Thinking that it would be nice to surprise the boys, who have been asking to take a trip to Burlington, we decided to book a hotel and stay overnight. Give the boys a chance to enjoy “the big city” and bring the grandparents along for a little mini vacation. Since Tom’s parents have not been to Burlington before, we wanted to stay right in town, within walking distance of the Lake and Church Street. I went onto to the Hilton’s website to book our stay. Tom stays at Hiltons when he travels and it just seemed natural to book our stay with them, rather than someplace else. I put in my search request for 2 rooms, 4 adults and 3 children. I came up with no available rooms. Odd, I thought since the first time through when we were playing with the idea in our minds, we had a plethora of room choices in differing price ranges. I tried several more times, playing with different configurations and came up with this conclusion – Hilton must dislike children. I could book the same rooms that I was trying to book with my three boys without them with absolutely no difficulty. The second I included children in the mix, suddenly I got the message “Sorry no rooms meet your criteria” (Criteria – I am looking for 2 rooms with double queen beds) I don’t think that my criteria is too high – all I want is a room to sleep in. Evidently, this is not a problem as long as I don’t bring my children along for the ride. If I want them to stay with me, suddenly that room and all the other rooms in the hotel are suddenly “not available”. So, what conclusion can you draw – other than Hilton does not like or want my children in their hotel. I am disturbed by this, since Hilton doesn’t apparently like my children, especially since they have never met my children. I am the mother of three teenage boys, 12, 13 and 14 who are well-behaved, polite boy scouts who hold doors open for adults and have manners. They have stayed with us in hotels on many occasions and we have never, ever had any type of problem with them, so I honestly cannot understand why Hilton hates them and won’t let us reserve a room with them. Here are screen shots of my Hilton website experience:
Trying to make reservations with the kids:
Same reservation request – minus the children:
Eliminate the kids and suddenly – a plethora of room choices -
The only logical conclusion that I can come to is that Hilton’s website for reservations must be out of whack, I certainly cannot believe that this major hotel chain dislikes children and won’t let me book a room online with my kids, whom it has never met and therefore cannot dislike. Is it just my kids or does Hilton dislike children in general. That would be discriminatory and just plain wrong. Hilton, we are trying to give you our money and you just don’t seem to want it! Please, oh please Hilton, say it isn’t so.
When the phone rings in the middle of the night and you know that your children are away (and one of them is asthmatic and has food allergies) you practically have a heart attack before you wake up enough to realize what is going on. That’s what happened last night in Burlington. Sound asleep in our hotel room and somewhere in the middle of the night (around 2:30) Tom’s cell phone rang (it of course didn’t help that the ringer is set to “deafening” levels anyway). As it turned out the horrible weather back home here, killed the power and Tom has the house automated to call us when the power is out (a leftover from the days when we didn’t live here and would have to send a neighbor over to check on things if the power were out for any length of time). BTW, the house was kind enough to wake us again two hours later when the power was restored, so that we wouldn’t lose sleep wondering, no doubt.
The trip home took a detour and we wound up over by Chimney Point where we had lunch at a quaint little diner on the corner of the road. There, Timmy if he was with us, would have wanted to move in. Sandwiches and burgers are served with a side of fries bigger than most places ‘large’ order of fries. We each ate about half of our own sides and there was still enough left over to qualify as a large order of fries at most places.
After we left there, we came upon a trio of people in a car that needed a jump. They were on a corner literally in the middle of nowhere. So, in the spirit of “Do a Good Turn Daily” (the boys’ scout motto), Tom pulled out the jumper cables and shortly they were happy, running and on their way.
We finally made it back and are glad to be home. Here are some pictures taken from the hotel room. Gorgeous room with a view. Thanks Tom, it was a good mini vacation.
Here’s some pictures that we took in the evening from the walkway by the Lake.
Tom and I have been spending a couple days in Burlington while the boys are in camp. This is a real treat for me. We got to spend some time together and explore which is pretty cool. Today we went on a drive up to the islands on Lake Champlain which was very pretty and definitely a vacation consideration for next summer. Isle La Motte was both our favorites since it is only 16 sq miles 8 of which are land and has not a restaurant that we could find, store or any of the other hokey tourist trap type places. Having finally spent some time by the Lake in the summer (as opposed to the winter when we were up this way last during the day) and it is beautiful. Reminds me of the ocean, peaceful and calming.
Tonight, despite the rain that fell crazy earlier, we were able to walk down to Chuch Street for some delicious Thai food for dinner. A real treat since we seldom get it where we live. It was a nice and relaxing day and a good trip. (Despite the crazy screaming woman in the room next to us)