Time, You Thief!

After almost a full year of being on college admissions overdrive, I’ve come to the conclusion that Tom Petty was correct; “The Waiting” is the hardest part.

Had you asked this past October, I would have said that getting my daughter to complete her applications was the most challenging of the admissions-related tasks. A few months before that, I would have sworn that convincing her to expand the rather small list of schools she was considering was the most arduous of my jobs. And this time last year, I have no doubt I would have told you that getting my girl to focus on grades and standardized testing was impossibly exhausting.

Now that this is all behind us, I can say with absolute certainty, that the period between December 6 and December 15 (the final week and two days before decisions were released) was by far the most difficult time of all.  And that’s because all we had left to do was wait.  And wait we did. I’ve never known time to pass more slowly—and I’ve been pregnant twice! If you haven’t experienced pregnancy yourself, I am here to tell you that nine months spent walking around with another human being lodged in your gut does not pass quickly.

But this felt worse.

And then, with the click a MacBook Pro trackpad, everything was good again.

I will never forget the moment that my daughter learned that all of her hard work had paid off.  And I will always hold in my heart the memory of the two of us, her hands clasped inside of mine, jumping up and down and screaming in absolute joy. Her dream school said: yes!

And now, several months later, I find that time won’t slow the hell down. The universe is playing a sick joke on me. The days are flying by. In just a few months, my baby will be heading out.

My daughter asked me recently if I would “feel sad” when she is away at college. I responded that I would definitely miss seeing her on a daily basis and would also miss the pleasure (and that is exactly what it is) of her company. I added, making sure to stress every syllable, that as long as she is happy, I could never feel sad.

Now, I have to work on putting that into practice.  And I better hurry… because time is flying.

*sigh*

I was named, in part, for the title of this poem. How appropriate it feels today:

Jenny Kissed Me

by Leigh Hunt

Jenny kissed me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in.
Time, you thief! who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in.
Say I’m weary, say I’m sad;
Say that health and wealth have missed me;
Say I’m growing old, but add-
Jenny kissed me!

 

The Next Phase

I can’t remember the last time reading something caused me to get a lump in my throat.  Or tears in my eyes.  But that is exactly what happened after I read this post on the New York Times’ college admissions blog, The Choice.  I am a regular reader of The Choice. Have been since my daughter entered high school almost three years ago.   I’ve appreciated being able to gain additional insight into the college admissions process.  A process, that is nothing like the one I went through in the mid 1980s.   Up until this morning I’ve been able to do this dispassionately.   Today that changed.  For the first time, I could really imagine my daughter being in the author’s place.  Going to her computer to open her “electronic” envelope. Thus the lump in my throat.

I recently admitted to a friend that I did not understand the meaning of the word powerless until I became a parent.  At the tender age of 15 months, my daughter fell and broke one of her front teeth.  She had to have extensive dental work done, which meant general anesthesia, and a visit to the children’s hospital.  Freaked me out.   I was floored that something as innocent as a fall on our uneven driveway could result in oral surgery. Hello powerlessness.

It was bad enough realizing that I couldn’t protect my kids from illness and injury.  The first time one of them had their feelings hurt I wanted to maim.  And if I happened to witness the cruelty first hand?  Oh my.  Remember the robot from Lost in Space who used to chant: Crush, kill, destroy!?  That’s who I turned into.   Instantly.  It took everything in my being not to body slam the offending child.  Everything.  In.  My.  Being. Once again, I was powerless.

Now my very loved, extremely precious, first-born is about to embark on the college admissions process.  She has visited a few schools, taken her first stab at standardized testing, and, as I type these words, is in the throes of her first semester final exams. She is working her ass off.  And I desperately want the best for her.  Want her dreams come true.  My wish for my daughter is everything she wishes for herself and more.  It stinks beyond belief that I am powerless to make those wishes and dreams come true.

Good thing I have a year to figure out how I will handle this next phase of parenting.

In the meantime, I guess I can always practice this: