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A Mama Takes Her Youngest to College

I began writing this post around 9pm Sunday night.  It’s now 12:28am.

This is your clue that I have much to say.

I would have written it earlier on Sunday, but I took it somewhat easy today after what had been a very difficult evening the night before.

I didn’t attend church because I knew the tears were lurking right below the surface, and I didn’t want to make a fool out of myself when I got the inevitable question of, “How are you doing?”

Anyhoo…let’s move on.

What I really wanted to do with this post was to tell you about taking Rooster to college for, despite the sad tone of my last couple of posts, it was a grand time!

WARNING:  This post is very picture heavy.

I cannot help it.

I’m a gal who reflects on my life through the use of lots of words and lots of pictures.

As you know from reading the post I wrote in the wee hours of Friday morning, I was unable to sleep the night before we left.  I had many things on my mind, and I just couldn’t shut off my brain cells.

This worked to my favor, though, as I got things organized to go.

I had a young man, the same age as Chicky, who was coming to watch the dogs.  True to my organized teacher self, I had placed dog food in labeled baggies and left three pages of instructions, including a picture I drew of where the dogs’ food bowls were to be placed in relation to the furniture.  Overkill?  Maybe a wee bit, but the dogs are trained to eat certain places, and I didn’t want them to get confused.

We loaded up the car, and I was surprised, once again, at how few items Rooster had decided to take.  We took two cars…mine and his.

I took the second picture from the front seat of Rooster’s car.  Sorry for the poor quality.  It’s obvious, though, that Rooster didn’t have much in his car either.

I had decided to ride with Rooster.  I wanted to take advantage of every minute I had with him.  Despite an argument an hour or so before we left, I persevered and got in that car with him.  I remembered from Chicky’s first time going to college that kids and mamas get on each others’ nerves and say things they don’t mean to say because of the change that’s coming.  It was easy to forgive Rooster.

We stopped for gas, and I picked up a little breakfast…

I uploaded pictures to Facebook as I took them, and when my friend, Barbara, saw this one, she said it was obvious a teenage boy had picked out the combination.

I chuckled as I texted back that the food was for ME!  😀

So the drive began with Rooster following behind the Mr., who was driving my car…

Rooster and I enjoyed easy conversations as he drove.  Oh, how I treasured the hours we spent together in the car.  He’s a good driver, and I dozed off for about twenty minutes, exhausted from my lack of sleep the night before.

When I woke up, he said, “Mama, did you know that you snore?”

Um, no, I didn’t.

We figured out, though, that it was the position of my head that made me sound funny when I breathed.

Whew!

After stopping for lunch at what has to be one of the dirtiest Burger Kings I’ve ever been to (it’s in Dothan, by the way), we continued our drive.

Before long, we were entering Auburn…

Every time I go to Auburn, I feel as if I’m home.  Seeing the stadium makes me think of football season and the passion it draws out in people.

There’s a lot of pride in Auburn…

We got Rooster’s parking pass and then decided to park our cars and do a little bit of window shopping.  I saw the following as we entered the Haley Center…

Shopping was fun…especially because there weren’t the hordes of people that there usually are on football Saturdays.  I could actually shop without getting that claustrophobic feeling that I get when I’m in large crowds…

I found something I liked…a lot…

For obvious reasons, I didn’t buy it…

After visiting a couple of stores, we decided to eat dinner.  Rooster saw Chipotle’s and, because he’d never eaten there, we decided to give it a go.  I’d eaten there last year when I visited Chicky at school, so I knew I liked it.  Here’s what I got…

Vegan heaven!

While we were eating, we remembered that we’d discussed going to see a movie, so after checking times, we headed back to the hotel to get ready.  Our room was so clean and comfortable!

Soon, we were on our way to see The Bourne Legacy.  We have always enjoyed the previous movies in this series.

The movie theater was one of the most plush that I’ve seen in a while.  There were small movie screens mounted to the walls, and previews were showing on them.  Rooster and the Mr. watched while I simply enjoyed sitting close to my boy.  The Mr. took what will always be one of my favorite pictures of the two of us.  I wish I could share it with you here, but I don’t post pictures of our faces.  My Facebook friends were getting to see my saga play out, though, as I constantly uploaded new pictures.

The movie was quite good, by the way!

So far, I’d managed to hold myself together, although I caught myself, sometime during the movie, thinking ahead to actually hugging Rooster goodbye the next day, and I teared up a bit.  Thank goodness it was dark in the theater.  Although he was sitting beside me, he never saw a thing.

We went back to the hotel, watched the evening’s Olympic events, and headed into Dreamland.  I slept hard.  I was worn out.

Auburn had organized the move-in process by assigning students to move-in shifts.  Our time slot was 8-8:30.  EARLY!  Rooster had a little trouble getting up…

Oh, good gravy, but I was not looking forward to what stretched ahead of me.  Sigh.

Off we went, and the skies were gloomy.  It’s been raining almost every day down here in the South.

How things worked was that cars pulled up to the curb, where there were volunteers to assist with the unloading process.  After unloading, cars were moved to the parking lot just beyond the drop-off zone.  Then, a designated member of each family stayed with the piles of stuff while other members of the family took stuff to the dorms.

It was interesting to compare Rooster’s pile of stuff with others’.  We’d even seen, as we’d driven up, a full-sized dresser in the back of a trailer.  WOW!

Rooster’s Pile

Rooster got assigned to be in Aubie Hall.  We smiled broadly when we got the news in the mail last Spring because Aubie is the name of our oldest dog.  This assignment seemed quite fitting!

We had to climb several sets of stairs to get to Rooster’s floor.  The hallways were narrow and seemed to go on forever!  In fact, Rooster and the Mr. got a little lost the first time they took a load up…

It took about four trips to the curb to get the entire pile to Rooster’s room…

Isn’t that a beautiful building?

I had not been on the campus tour, so I was pleasantly surprised when I caught my first glimpses of the dorm…I mean suite.

The suite is beautiful!  It doesn’t even feel like a dorm but more like an apartment!  It has four rooms (one student sleeps in each), two bathrooms, a living room, and a kitchen.

Two of Rooster’s suite-mates are in the band and have been at school for a week or two already.  Someone brought this…

Another guy brought this…

Talk about a good setup!!  Makes ME wish I was living the college life!!

The view from the living room is beautiful…the stadium!!

Rooster has a great view from his room as well…one of the dining halls and the basketball arena…

We also had a good view of the other families moving students in…

We started putting things in Rooster’s room.

Rooster has a decent sized area to hang clothes.

We got busy, got his bed made, and unpacked his clothes.

Along the way, we thought of things we needed to get, so I started a list on an app on my phone…

We made what has become a tradition in our family…a Walmart run…for last-minute items.

I love shopping in Auburn.  It’s where I can find fabrics like these…

And these…

My small list turned into this (you always wind up buying more than you intended!)…

Back to school we went, where we helped Rooster put away the new items.

It didn’t take long.  Rooster is very minimalistic, taking satisfaction in the few things he has, not needing a ton of stuff.

Rooster wanted to make sure his student card had been loaded with his food money, so we visited one of the eateries on campus…the Chick-n-Grill…

I got a veggie wrap, of course…

Rooster really, really likes this place, so I’d venture to bet that he’ll be visiting often.

As we walked around campus, I found myself enjoying the view…sights I never tire of during my visits…

The green areas on campus are breathtaking!  I was struck by this tree…don’t ask me why…perhaps because it was beautiful.

We got back to his room and put away a few more things.  On our way up, this time taking the elevator, I was struck by the attention to detail.  Although the elevator goes to several floors, the hallways are locked and require student key cards, specifically coded for individual students’ floor assignments, before entry can be made.  The building is co-ed with the floors being dedicated to either all girls or all boys and the floors alternating from one to another (i.e. 2nd/4th are boys and 1st/3rd are girls).  As a mama, I just LOVE this!!

This is not Rooster’s hallway, by the way!

Rooster’s room looked fantastic when we got finished!  I loved the little touches he added, such as his Scentsy candle, which I bought him last year.  He loved Canada when we stopped during our cruise to Alaska last year, so that’s why I bought him a Canada candle holder.

Rooster and the Mr. had been purchasing little trinkets like the following…

His desk looked so organized and clean

I’m sure it won’t surprise you when I tell you that before we left, he had his computer and xBox connected to AU’s wifi.

We’re hoping to see some academic books added to the shelves below (or rather to the desktop above)…

Then, we took a look at the Welcome Week brochure, which contained daily schedules of activities designed to help students meet each other and learn about different organizations on campus…

One fun activity was this…

For the record, Rooster wound up not going to this.  Instead, he attended a praise and worship time at the college’s chapel.

Yep.

He turned down FREE ice cream to worship with other believers.

I.  Am.  Humbled.

But I’m digressing because he did that AFTER we dropped him off.

After we perused the Welcome Week brochure, we left his room.  Rooster told us to take a good look at his bed because it was the only time we’d see it made.  He wasn’t planning on keeping things completely straight.

And this is the part of the story that gets difficult.

I’d done so well all day.

I had not cried.

Well, that’s not true.

When he’d gone to get us a better buggy at Walmart, the Mr. and I started talking, and I did tear up.  I wiped my tears before Rooster got back to us.

Still, I’d kept myself together.

As we sat on the couch talking to Rooster, it became obvious that there wasn’t much else for us to do.

We had made small talk with one of his roommates who was also moving in on Saturday.  His parents were very nice.  They had left, though, to get lunch, so we had Rooster all to ourselves.

Though there were evening activities planned for families, we hadn’t known about them ahead of time, and we’d already planned to head on home late that afternoon (I’ll know better for next year!).

Finally, the Mr. gave me “THE LOOK.”

If you’ve been married a while, you know what I’m talking about.

It was the impatient, “Are you ready to leave” look.

Sigh.

It had to be done.

I would have gladly stayed all day…all weekend…every day for the next four years.

I excused myself to use the restroom, where I started crying.

It’s difficult to type this without crying.

The pain was growing.

I managed to get myself together.

Rooster was in his room alone, and I hugged him and told him how much I loved him.

He’s not a gushy kind of guy, so he didn’t say much.

I think he was a little ready for us to leave, but he was being polite and not saying it.

He didn’t want to walk downstairs with us, but I asked him to anyway.

Oh, who am I kidding?

I made him…guilted him into it.

I wanted a couple of final pictures.

I needed that.

The Mr. and I took turns taking pictures of each other with our boy.

I didn’t cry.

I was good.

I told Rooster, for the upteenth time, that I loved him.

And then he began to walk away.

THIS is the worst part of being a mama.

Absolutely.

I tried to get him to turn around for one final wave.

Chicky does this for me.

Not my Rooster.

He just walked.

And he opened the door to his building and was gone.

I managed not to cry in that moment, although my heart was ripped in two.

The Mr. and I turned and walked to the car.

As I sat down and closed the door, the floodgates opened up.

I wanted to run back inside for one last hug.

I couldn’t.

I knew that.

The Mr. drove…

To one of the University’s stores so I could have a bit of retail therapy…

And where we could get some of the famous lemonade from Toomer’s Drugs.

You do realize what I was doing, right?

I was delaying the inevitable…leaving the town that my baby was in.

But leave we did…

Where we passed beautiful rural scenery…

And a thunderstorm, which matched my somber mood…

Unlike two years ago, when I took Chicky for her first year of college, I was returning to a home that would not have one of my babies there.

At least when I had taken Chicky, I knew I’d still have Rooster to love on daily…to invest energy on…to comfort me when the sadness of being without her overwhelmed me.

This time I knew I wouldn’t have that.

Rooster was beginning an adventure that I was not a part of, and I felt left out.

I still feel left out.

But I am happy for him.

We shared a lot of arguments this past year, due to his growing up and away from me.  But, we also shared a deepening relationship as we discussed issues on a more mature level.

I’m going to miss our daily conversations…our time in the evening when we will just sit together in the same room, both perhaps lost in our thoughts but together nonetheless.

It’s hard to know, sometimes, how your children feel about you…especially in light of the arguments you have with them…especially as the time draws nearer for them to leave home.

During the ride home, I saw, on Facebook, that Rooster had changed his profile picture.

He’d changed it to the one I’d just uploaded of the two of us hugging right before we’d left.

Do you know how much that touched my heart?

I cried tears of sadness and tears of joy, and I’m crying right now as I type this.

This child who’d I’d fought with only an hour before we’d left the house on that trip had honored me by using our picture as the one that’s displayed whenever he updates Facebook.

I know that those of you who have already sent your babies to college and have gotten used to the changes in your life must be reading my ramblings and thinking that it will get better.

I do know this.

But that doesn’t make my heart hurt less right now.

I know that I’ll get used to it.

It’s just hard when you’re a mama who has always been so hands-on with her children…not as a way to control them (despite what they might think) but as a way to express your love for them.

Anyhoo, I’ve digressed.

Again.

I love my Rooster, and if he’s reading this, I hope that he knows that my love is deep, and the things I do and the tears I cry are not attempts to hold him back but reflect the joy that being his mama has brought to my life.

I truly am blessed.

I do not know why the Lord chose me to be his mama, but I am humbled, and I am honored.

I never deserved the good things in my life and the wonderful children I bore, but still God blessed me.

I’ll treasure this weekend of taking my youngest to college.  I’m thankful for the experience.  I cannot imagine ever sending one of my children to college to move in by him/herself because to do so would deny me the privilege of hugging a piece of myself one last time before the next part of that person’s journey begins.

And that is what this weekend and, in fact, this time in all of our lives is about…

The start of a new journey.

Rooster, you’re going to have a great four years, I just KNOW it!

I want you to know that I’ll be in the wings, cheering you on, praying for you, every step of the way!!

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3 Responses

  1. I can tear up with you just reading this… cant believe its his turn to go to college!!! WOW!!!
    Tough job being a momma & letting them go sometimes, huh?

    I had to laugh – when we leave, I do the same thing with our dogs food… & I have a ‘reminder lesson’ on where each bowl goes.

    Man oh man… his suite is SWEETTTTTT!!! That view? That room… he’s got it good!!!!

    & choosing to go to worship instead? Yep… I smiled… you raised your boy good! 🙂

  2. Boys are so different from girls. In all my years of moving in/out college aged daughters we never ever ever had time to squeeze in a movie : ) The leaving is the hard part…it will be better once he’s into a new routine and you are too. I hate the walking away bit too. Until you’ve done it you don’t realize how you feel a physical tear in your heart. Hugs to you today!

  3. Oh dear, this made me cry! I loved reading about your weekend. Thank you for sharing!!

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