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IMG_6816Home. A simple four letter word that is absolutely emotionally charged. Don’t believe me? Ask any parent of a college kid. “Home” is home, the house and family that you grew up with, the parents that worry about you and provide you with everything…or at least  did until you left for college.

Home is defined by Merriam Webster as:

1a one’s place of residence domicile 
b house 
2the social unit formed by a family living together 
3a a familiar or usual setting congenial environment; also the focus of one’s domestic attention 
b habitat 
4a a place of origin

I remember quite clearly when the my boys first returned home from college for a long weekend or break and referred to that place where they reside when they are not with me, as “home” as in “when I get home…..”. No. No. NO! You cannot call that “place” home. This is “home”. WE are “home”. Not some place with thrown together furnishings, decorated with beer cans, sorely in need of a good mom cleaning, a place that those other than college folk would find unworthy of being called a home. And yet there in lies the rub. “Home” is not so much a place as a state of mind.

Houses, apartments, condos, dorm rooms – these are all physical spaces that accommodate us and keep us out of the elements, provide a sleeping space and a place to store all our stuff. Home is where you are gathered with those that you care about, whom you care you about, those you support and those that support you – in short, a place where you feel safe, cared for and loved. A place you are happy to spend your time.

It took a while and a lot of fervent wrangling before this college mom came to the non-emotional realization that home means a lot of things to different people at different ages and stages, but boils down to those essentials – happiness, safety, friendship and love. For me, I am more than happy that my kids have found “homes” where they are surrounded by laughter, friendship, safety and love. I know that our home is the foundation of all that and will always hold a special place in their hearts.

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pictures-093_2Through a mother’s eyes, this is how they will always look to me. No matter how many years the calendar says they are, how tall they become, how adult they are to the rest of the world. When I look at them, I can see what the rest of the world sees, the handsome, smart, amazing young men they have become, but I also see these faces. These people who somewhere in the recesses of their subconscious minds, know what my heart sounds like from the inside.

Today, two of them headed back to school. The oldest left a week ago. The time always goes way too fast. There doesn’t seem like there are enough seconds in a day when they are around. I want to sit and talk with them, stare at them, drink it all in like some intoxicating, addictive drug.

I was pretty good earlier today when my friend and I dropped off our youngest two, that is until she pointed out, with mom tears in her eyes, that this was really the last time they  would be ours, truly ours. In a few short months, those two, our respective babies, will join their siblings with their own apartments. Next summer, there will be another place they will call home. That thought just did me in. So when my middle son took off for his home away from home tonight, there was a little extra poignancy to the goodbyes.

“We’re only a couple hours away, you know” he said “don’t be sad.” Yes, I know. But through my mother eyes and in my heart I want to scream – you are too young, too little, too much mine to share with the rest of the world.

But… share I will, because they are also too wonderful, amazing, smart and funny to keep all to myself. And so begins the empty nest all over again….

I remember the day vividly. The day that my life changed forever….in a wonderful way. I woke this morning 19 years ago to start a journey that will last a lifetime. My water broke at 6 a.m. and we were off on the journey of a lifetime. Later that evening, at 9:47, when he was good and ready, my first baby made his way into this world, making me a mom. It is so hard to believe that 19 years have passed since that day. The journey has flashed by but it has been a wonderful trip, full of laughter, smiles, hugs, tears and growing pains.  Looking at the young man he has become, a mom can be nothing but heart-bursting proud. Today is a hard birthday (for me) though since it will be the first time in his entire life, that I won’t be there to personally give him a birthday hug and kiss. (Mind you I got those in over the weekend). He will however, be in my thoughts the entire day – after all, how could he not be?

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TJ leaves on Friday for college. We are in the countdown phase for sure. This past week, the UPS guy and the FedEx guy have been making almost daily stops to our house, delivering in drips and drabs various components of TJ’s new life away from home. Each delivery brings with it another dose of reality that things will be very different around here next week this time.  Nonetheless, I am putting on my big girl panties and keeping a brave face. This is not the end, but the beginning.

He will be off to a new adventure for which I hope we have prepared him well. At least, it seems judging by the boxes and foot lockers strewn around the house, he will be well packed.

Evilwife on the move

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