Launching Maisy: A Year of Trauma, Turbulence and Tears…Lots and Lots of Tears

I have cried at least once every single day since December 15, 2017. Some tears were stinging hot ones that threatened but never actually fell. Some were accompanied by uncontrollable, choking-body-shaking-make-up-smearing-can’t-even-breathe sobs. For those of you keeping count, that is 239 days of tears. I am certain this is the most I have cried in any one year in all my 47 years on this earth.

Maisy's Bangs Then

Maisy’s Bangs Then

Maisy's Bangs Now

Maisy’s Bangs Now


Why? Why so much crying?

In three short weeks, we will make the 6 hour drive up to Providence, Rhode Island where we will leave our first-born child, Maisy, at Brown University. December 15–The Day the Tears Began—was the day she was accepted.

Tears of triumph

Tears of triumph

The strangest thing is that in our marriage-child-raising-milestone “road map,” I was going to be the OK parent when this time came. I was going to be strong, funny, and helpful without being overbearing. I would hold my poor husband up as he crumpled at the reality of his baby girl going to college.

Instead, I am burning through waterproof mascara and Jackie O sunglasses while he contemplates various ways to illustrate to me the magnitude of the financial burden her tuition will be.

“Cat! Do you realize that we will spend more on tuition over the next four years than we did on our first house? A. House, Cat. Unbelievable.”

“Cat! Do you know that this year, we will spend more on tuition than the average American family earns in a year? An. Entire. Year, Cat. Unbelievable.”

“Cat! Do you know that in the next four years, we will spend more on tuition than it costs to buy a brand new Aston Martin Vanquish? An. Aston. Martin, Cat. Unbelievable”

I no longer really hear the words he says. I just shake my head in solidarity and go on scrounging around in my purse for one more dry Keenex.

I have heard other moms sending their kids off say things like: “I am losing my BEST friend1″

Or, “She is such a big help at home! How will I manage without her?”

I can’t really say either of those things. My daughter and I are eerily similar in many ways but, I am a middle-aged-peri-menopausal-Facebooker and she is an 18-year-old-red-lipstick-wearing-Snap-Chatter. I love her so much that my chest ACTUALLY hurts, but she is, most certainly, not my best friend.

As far as the whole “big help,” thing.

Nope.

Maisy is….how to say it gently…A COLLOSAL, HOPELESS, UNAPOLOGETIC SLOB. To illustrate, as she has started to pack her things, we have discovered that in the 14 years she has occupied her bedroom, she has painted her nails at least 400 times with at least as many colors..and appears to have used the carpet to clean the brushes. Also, at some point, a small animal must have suffocated in those fumes and is now a pile of bones buried under a pile of clothes which haven’t been touched since 2011.

During one of my particularly bad breakdowns recently, Chris said (in a desperate attempt to make me feel better,) “Hey! Won’t it be nice to have our house clean again…without all her crap everywhere?”

Nope.

It won’t be nice. It will be awful. And heartbreaking. And even as I type these words, my tears are threatening.
She is a mess. She certainly is not very helpful around the house. And, she does have this habit of borrowing my favorite cashmere sweaters and then “forgetting” them in the back of her car just long enough for seasons to change so I forget I had them in the first place.

But, then there is this.

She is the hardest working girl I have ever known. When she was 12, she announced that she would be going to an Ivy League college. She charted a path and did not falter…not once…in 6 years until she achieved her dream. Most adults I know don’t have that kind of vision and grit.

And, she is ridiculously talented. When she was about 5, she overheard her dad and I saying that she was so cute trying to sing along to the radio but boy…”she is NEVER going to be a singer is she!” We laughed and laughed then. Well, we quickly learned NEVER to tell that kid she wasn’t good at something. She decided she was not only going to learn to sing but that she was going to be great. These days, her voice fills our house with everything from Heart and Stevie Nicks to Michael Jackson and Prince. She sings all day and at all hours of the night. She sings loudly and softly and occasionally just hums. She would sing until she fell asleep except then all four of us scream in unison “MAISY! Shut up!!”

Maisy Rocks

Maisy Rocks

And, her laugh…she has the best, most contagious laugh. I can’t begin to count the number of nights I fell asleep to the sound of her muffled but unmistakeable laugh. (Just so you all know, at this point, my tears are no longer just “threatening.”)

Maisy laughs

Maisy laughs


Here is the hardest thing for me.

When Maisy leaves for college, she will take her music and her mess and her muffled laugh. But, she will also leave her empty chair at the dinner table (always to the right of her dad, next to Sam, directly across from me, and diagonally from Hads)

Maisy "leaves."

Maisy “leaves.”


We will now buy 4 movie tickets and 4 plane tickets and won’t have to order the “extra pint of white rice.”

It is not just that our daughter is leaving our home. It is that our home, our family, the most important reason for my existence as a mom, will never again be the same.

We are losing all of those Maisy “parts” that were essential to the Meyer “whole.”

And 5 Makes 1

And 5 Makes 1

That is why I have cried at least once every day for the last 239 days.

Comments

  1. Claire Andrews says:

    I definitely get it! My sons left home within 3 months of each other. One to college, one military. I cried so much. Couldn’t even go in their rooms for awhile. When they are home it is the best and worst of times. Hopefully your daughter will settle nearby when she is finished with school! And if not, by then you will be used to her absence! Good luck and cry away!

  2. Brian Hearns says:

    “She shall be rich in wisdom as the day is long…knowing that once the seed, now the flower…the morning bloom.”
    Love you all…
    Brian Hearns

  3. Marlene Matarazzo says:

    My heart goes out to you Christine and to your entire family. Change is so hard and so upsetting especially when there is such a bond on so many levels as there is with you and your family. You expressed it so well when you spoke about how Maisy gets you angry at times and frustrates you at other times, but that despite all of tje things that drive you crazy, there is a deep and abiding love that can only be between a Mother and her child, much less between a Mother and her first born. You and Chris have obviously given Maisy the love and support and freedom to be the wonderful young woman that she has turned out to be. You can and will do doubt cry a thousand more tears, but in between the flow of tears, you can look back over the years and you will no doubt feel a deep sense of pride at the wonderful young woman who now is posed at the start of this new chapter in her life. A chapter that you all will turn together as a family who loves and supports each other through it all. Sending you all blessings and best wishes for the Meyer family.

  4. Julia Welbon says:

    You capture the transition’s feelings perfectly. Happily, this is happening with lots of communication options surrounding us. On move-in day at Cornell in 1960, my mother put a candy bar in my desk drawer for me to find after they had gone. It helped me realize that this was as big a step for her as for me. You’ll make it, for sure!

  5. Diane W Houseknecht says:

    Funny that you write this Christine. Within the last 24 hours, I have been mentally preparing for Jess to go back for her senior year of college this thursday. You would think by now, I would be “adjusted”. Sophomore and Junior years “send offs” weren’t too terrible, like freshman year. I looked forward to fall, winter, and spring breaks…then summer!! But this year is different in that as a senior in college, I am truly realizing, she may not come home next year…work, maybe; grad school likely;, fairly serious boyfriend, yes… She has become a beautiful, successful young woman, and I am thankful for that, proud of her, but melancholy with “my loss”. She is dearly missed daily.
    Yet, I remind myself, that this is the course we have prepared her for, and we are truly blessed with the amazing person she has become, and the piece of her that everyone who knows her loves. But, these last few days it’s my duty to spoil her with last minute small necessities for college, her favorite meals, a visit to grandma, and lots of talk time and hugs. I can truly relate to your post!! Love that is so deep that it hurts in an amazing way. Thanks for posting. I am right there with you!!

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