Tuesday, September 1, 2015

the BYU drop-off

So after all the blubbering and heart-wrench (last post), we headed to take our boy up to start his life as an official BYU Cougar.
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As you can tell, he wasn't overly broken up about it.

Love the fact that he picked that particular shirt to wear...not sure if that was just a coincidence or not...

The “grand” part of sending a child off to college (that I promised to get to today) is that man, it is fun to watch that excitement sparkle in your child’s eyes.

….Although I’m pretty sure I didn’t have the same look in my eyes that he did when I first checked in to Boston University all those years ago.

The look in my eyes probably terrified my mother.  I was pretty much scared to death.

But Max was pleased as punch to be there which made the whole drop-off pretty exciting. It was honestly just like a three day party.

The first night we were in Salt Lake where we met up with my parents for dinner.2015-08-26 iPhone 115975
And took in the beautiful views downtown.2015-08-27 iPhone 115979
When Max claimed that his back "needed" a little rub that night before bed I jumped at the chance for a little more chatting before bed.  He spilled out so many feelings and questions and observations late into the night.

Now, anyone who knows Max knows that he’s not a huge talker so that little snippet of time was like a little gift that his mother will cherish for a long time.

The next morning we left bright and early for Provo and the big check-in orientation.

Oh my word.  There were a LOT of kids there all checking into their different groups for orientation.  2015-08-27 iPhone 115984
I don’t know if they do that at different colleges…they sure didn’t do it back at Boston University back in the day when I was a freshman, but maybe that’s just BU as opposed to BYU.

Max was so excited to get moved into his room that he couldn’t bring himself to do much with all the orientation festivities that morning, but we did talk him into coming to the “opening ceremonies” with us for a little bit.

Check out that sea of freshmen with their parents:2015-08-27 iPhone 115987
Then we were ready to move that kid in.2015-08-27 iPhone 115990
His roommate and his Dad were there to greet us, full of excitement as well.2015-08-27 iPhone 115994
And then the across-the-hall neighbors who happen to be old friends came for a visit too.2015-08-27 iPhone 115995
Max wasn’t the only one who got to be reunited with old friends. BYU kind of makes for a small world sometimes and a few of my BYU roommates from long, long ago have sons who are up there and some other great friends I haven’t seen forever were checking in their kids too. 

We met up with some friends from our Virginia days and one of my best college girlfriends:2015-08-27 iPhone 115998
They were checking in their daughters.  Kory’s daughter was gone to the orientation stuff at this point but here are Lynna and her cute Abbie:2015-08-27 iPhone 115999
(love the tippy-toes :)

We took these boys to lunch…2015-08-27 iPhone 116001
…and met up with these great women from my mother’s group (here) and their cute checking-in-freshmen daughters for dinner.2015-08-27 iPhone 116005
I sent that pic to the other mothers from that group we were missing and one commented back that you can see the sadness in the mom’s eyes and the excitement in the kids.

I think she’s dead-on. 

That night Dave and I headed to Target to gather some things Max needed for his dorm room and ran into Dave’s last missionary companion and his wife.2015-08-27 iPhone 116008
Honestly, it is a small world. 

We stood there and talked to them for an hour…I loved meeting them getting to listen in on some great mission stories.

We got to catch some of the big pep rally thing that night with all the incoming freshmen where they introduced a whole slew of sports teams and the marching band and cheerleaders, etc.2015-08-27 iPhone 116015
The only time I teared up on this whole trip was when that huge sea of kids all dressed in blue stood and sang “Rise and Shout” at the top of their lungs.

They took an “incoming freshmen” picture that makes me even more in awe about how many kids there are in the same position Max is (I think nearly 4,000), all with bright eyes and high hopes for the coming year.2015-08-30 iPhone 116140
Can you spot Max in there?

Ha!

We ran into Max following all the hoopla in the stadium and he looked like he was kind of missing us a bunch, poor kid.  Ha!2015-08-27 iPhone 116023
The next morning we came back to the dorm room with our Target supplies and helped finish off the big “move-in,” which wasn’t really “big” at all compared to all the girls moving in with all the bells and whistles. 

I'm kind of thinking this is the cleanest his closet will ever look though...
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Here he is in all his glory.
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He's saving that big spot on the wall for a map or flag or something from his mission when he gets his call.

I tried to get him to let me help arrange things like all his pictures we printed out, etc., but this is as far as we got before he was ready to take off again for whatever was next on the agenda, assuring that "he's got this."

So Dave and I utilized some time to visit our cute niece who is also starting as a freshman up there (at UVU).
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Sure love that Allie.  She is settling in so nicely into her new environment too.

That night another new freshman from our church congregation here in the desert who plays soccer for the BYU team up there reserved some tickets for us so we could go to the game that night.
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She and her sister both play and boy that team is very impressive.

The temperature was perfect with the golden rays filtering through and we helped hit an all-time record for the amount of spectators there.
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Max helped in the spectator category too...he was somewhere in that huge crowd of cheering students.
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Dave and I had a chance to go past our old stomping grounds (where we met...more on that here and here).
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I finally got to seize the opportunity to hike up to the "Y" on the mountain by BYU and dragged Dave along with me...except he had to pretty much drag me because that thing was steep I tell you!
But the view was pretty spectacular.
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This is at the very tippy-top of that "Y."
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And here's looking up from the bottom.
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We learned so much history about that thing.

Stuff like how they built it over a hundred years ago, how they used to light it up on special occasions with little lanterns (now they do it with a generator three or four times a year), how they carried up all the cement, how the original plan was to write all three BYU letters but somehow they decided just "Y" was enough (more history stuff on that over here).
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Fun to try to pick out where Max's dorm was from clear up there, our old apartment, the library, our old favorite hang-outs.
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See the side profile we were leaving behind as we walked back down?  That sucker is 380 feet high and 130 feet wide.
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After our hike we got showered up and headed over to our special spot:

Sundance.

That's where we got engaged over 20 years ago.
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It was just as gorgeous as ever.
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We met up with our friends who used to live in the desert with us and since moved away to Utah.
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...and also met up with my sister and her kids who happened to be in the same bike race, but didn't get a good picture, dang it!

So, you may ask, where was the star of this post while we were off on our great long date?

Oh just soaking up his new life with a big huge smile stretched across his face.

Dave has been joking that it was kind of like "catch and release" with fishing.  We unhooked that kid of ours and set him free into a giant ocean...and he couldn't have been happier.

My wise friend Sarah once told me that "college is not a prize to be won, but a fit to be made" and she was so right.

This decision and move sure seem to fit him like a glove.

As we headed out of town we went to drop off one last thing to him in his dorm and said goodbye amidst a few friends.  No tears, no drama, just a whole lotta love...and an inside vow I would be back to visit before too long...I think that's what held the tears back:)
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(Maybe Dave chose that shirt on purpose just like maybe Max did on the first day???)

And it was all grand...

...until we got home and I caught a glimpse of his empty room and it was like I was imploding with darkness all over again.

Things will never be quite the same again.  And although I know that's ok and good and the proper progression and all that jazz, I'm pretty sure there will always be a gaping hole in my heart missing him.

A few months ago, in anticipation of this big step my mom and dad both sent me this poem on separate occasions.  And it is pretty beautiful so I want to share it here too:

Walking Away

It is eighteen years ago, almost to the day --
A sunny day with leaves just turning,
The touch-lines new-ruled -- since I watched you play
Your first game of football, then, like a satellite
Wrenched from its orbit, go drifting away

Behind a scatter of boys.  I can see
You walking away from me towards the school
With the pathos of a half-fledged thing set free
Into a wilderness, the gait of one
Who finds no path where the path should be.

That hesitant figure, eddying away
Like a winged seed loosened from its parent stem,
Has something I never quite grasp to convey
About nature's give-and-take -- the small, the scorching
Ordeals which fire one's irresolute clay.

I have had worse partings, but none that so
Gnaws at my mind still.  Perhaps it is roughly 
Saying what God alone could perfectly show -- 
How selfhood begins with a walking away,
And love is proved in the letting go.

--Cecil Day-Lewis (circa 1962)

I'll always be sad it came so dang quickly, but I do believe whole-heartedly in those last two lines.

The part of me that is hollow and raw yearning for the laughter, little spats, hugs and doors slamming of ALL of us under one roof is accompanied by another part filled with wonder at how much he's grown even in two days, and excitement to watch this son of mine spread his wings and fly.2007-07-25 Bear Lake reunion 0281
Now to get ready to do all this over again with Elle in a year....

Oh boy.

Monday, August 31, 2015

getting ready for a big move

I know a lot of moms with kids who have graduated and moved away.  My mom, Dave’s mom, a bunch of friends, sisters-in-laws, random strangers on the street. 

So this is my question:

Why in Heaven’s name did they not warn me how awful it is?!

Now, I’m well aware that this is all part of the plan.  I already know that it’s awesome that he’s going to college and that he’s made some pretty good decisions in his life and that I should be relishing in the fact that he sure seems to be ready.

And believe me, I am so grateful for all of the above.  This is what we’ve been working all these years to help him get ready for.

But all those rational reasons for a child to leave his mother seem a little bit like gibberish when you’re in the middle of sending that child off.

One of my favorite motherhood quotes is this:

“Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous.  It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

--Elizabeth Stone

It has spoken so true to me with each of my five babies.  From the moment I caught the first glimpse of their tiny purple bodies and heard their first melodic cries (newborn baby cries are one of the most melodic thing in the world in my opinion), it was as if a piece of my heart was ripped out for them…that mother’s love is so deep and indescribable.

But never has that quote had quite so much meaning as it has the last few weeks as I got my only boy ready to move away from me and take such a huge chunk of my heart right along with him.

Now, this may sound dramatic, (and I’ve realized over the last few weeks and months that I’m much more dramatic than I took myself to be), but I’m here to tell you that it IS dramatic to let your child leave your nest.

There is part of me that thinks it is a very cruel thing to let a mother raise a child for eighteen years, reveling in his successes, mourning at his mistakes, praying her guts out that he’ll make the right choices, cutting toenails, kissing away scrapes and bruises, teaching him how to spell, how to problem-solve, how to obey and to love…and then uproot that child she has poured her soul into and ship him off to college. 

It is awful I tell you.

But I know, deep down, there is another part of me that will {eventually} make my heart soar as I revel in the wonder of sending him off, his eyes wide open into the big wide world, and feeling confident that he is ready.

For the last few weeks it has been kind of a battle in my soul…the happy part, sharing in his sheer excitement one minute, and the sad part, wallowing in the depths of despair the next.  My poor husband and family have put up with me quite nicely I must say.  (Thanks guys!)  I found myself blubbering about the dumbest things.  Doing the dishes, getting a text asking about when Max was leaving from a friend, eating a hamburger…you name it, everything had some kind of relation to Max.

And that kid of mine was leaving.

One day when his disastrous bedroom caught my eye for the um-teenth time I got stomping mad at that kid.  2015-08-21 iPhone 115833
(This is actually very mild compared to all the times I forgot to snap a picture…)

Sure he had to go to work at 5:30 in the morning and yes, that’s early.  But can he not hang up a towel after eighteen years for Pete’s sake?  Can he not put his discarded contact cases in the trash can approximately 18-inches away?  Must he leave laundry all over the floor when he has a perfectly good laundry basket sitting there in the corner?  I swear I have taught him better than that.  Haven’t all those weeks of Saturday jobs done anything to help? 

I started daydreaming about the day when I would get that bedroom back.  Oh how it would sparkle!  Oh how fresh it would smell! 

Yes, I was ready.

…until I caught a quick glimpse of some of the pots he made in his clay class at school…2015-08-24 iPhone 115937 …and noted the volleyball awards gathering dust on his desk and that did it:

I was bawling once again.  (Have I mentioned that I have been a little crazy this last little while?  Oh boy.)

How could I ever let him leave?  If given the choice I’d take his stinky towels strewn in bunches across the floor and a million empty contact cases lying around just to have him just stay little. 

Just a little longer!

He’s all grown up, this boy of ours.  He graduated from high school (loved this card he got from one of my friends):2015-08-19 iPhone 115808

And he has become a man who has worked so hard all summer long and came home like this:2015-08-19 iPhone 115798
…and this:2015-08-20 iPhone 115818
(Dave and I could hardly help ourselves from taking pictures of him when he got home from work…the pictures don’t even do justice to how dirty he got.)

He has been a good leader at church and became an Elder last Sunday.2015-08-23 iPhone 115905
He has worked on grades, on friendships, on how he wants to live his life, on being a leader, and yes, even on cleaning his darn room for so many years and at some point you just have to let them go, gosh dang it!

So we ate up those last few days together.  We snuggled him up his last Sunday at home.2015-08-23 iPhone 115907
(with completely fake smiles up there)

He took his sister out to lunch on a special date (she thought it was the best thing in the world).2015-08-25 iPhone 115956
He got his wisdom teeth out in preparation for his upcoming mission…

…and then proceeded to go to the first season high school football game that very night.2015-08-21 iPhone 115878
(In case you were wondering…like I was…you cannot miss the only football game of the season you are going to be home for, despite your wisdom teeth being ripped out of your mouth that morning.  Everyone knows that I guess.  Duh.)

Along with wisdom teeth, we had doctor and dentist appointments to get his mission papers ready.

And then we turned those suckers in…

…with a mission reporting date availability of December 18th. 

Yes, you heard that right…he let them know he’ll be ready to leave BEFORE Christmas.

I tried to talk him into waiting until after Christmas on the 26th, but he’s wanting to be sure he gets back to start the January semester after his two years away so he wants them to know he’s ready.

We’ll see how that pans out probably this Friday or next when we get that mission call in the mail calling him to somewhere in the world to serve for two years.

(GULP)

We cleaned out that room of his.2015-08-24 iPhone 115931
…and went through the 47 volleyball jerseys he had stuffed into drawers.2015-08-24 iPhone 115933
Went through old school things and filled up his hanging file folder with school stuff for the last time along with a few other keepsakes.

Eighteen years of that boy’s life wrapped up in a few boxes filled with memories.2015-08-30 iPhone 116143
Gradually that room and closet of his got emptier…2015-08-24 iPhone 115939
and emptier…2015-08-26 iPhone 115967
…as I tried to hold back torrents of tears.

Our neighbors had us over for a swimming FHE and we all went around and shared our favorite things about Max (SO sweet of them).2015-08-24 iPhone 116146
We had his favorite dinner his last night home (Chicken Tikka Masala) and snuggled in to watch a slideshow I made for him.2015-08-25 iPhone 116066
I’m including the slideshow here even though it has all kinds of music problems and some important pictures that were left out…slide shows are not my forte :)



The girls wrote all kinds of notes for him.2015-08-26 iPhone 115970
He had scriptures with us that last morning he was home and Claire requested some pictures with him that she could put in her bedroom:2015-08-26 untitled 115760
…and in her folder for school.2015-08-26 untitled 115759
So then of course we had to do it with all the girls even though we were all a little teary-eyed.2015-08-26 untitled 1157522015-08-26 untitled 1157552015-08-26 untitled 1157572015-08-26 untitled 1157652015-08-26 untitled 115766
Then those sisters of his were all off.

And after a few last-minute pack-ups, Dave and Max and I were off to take him to start the first chapter of the rest of his life.

At BYU.

So here I am to give advice to the mothers out there who will have to do this some day (since no one told me). 

It is awful to send a child off into the big world after holding him so tight for so long. 

It hurts in all kinds of ways.

BUT at the same time it is somehow grand and exhilarating (not yet, but I have total confidence that it will be in the future!). 

And it’s going to be ok.

…at least that’s what I keep telling myself!

More on the grand part tomorrow. 
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