Just A Little More Time

My son informed me the other day that I haven’t written a blog post in nearly a year.  And not for lack of material.  Honestly, some fairly notable things have occurred during that time.

I could have written about when I lopped off part of my thumb with a mandoline slicer.  About how I picked up the piece of my thumb that I sliced off, stuck it back in place, wrapped a paper towel around it, and actually debated for a few minutes whether or not I needed medical attention. Turns out I needed several weeks of medical attention. I figure only a true Italian would sacrifice part of a finger so that her family could have perfectly sliced fried eggplant with their spaghetti.

I might have written about how right after what is now referred to as “The Mandoline Incident”, I was diagnosed with skin cancer on my head. But this is usually more of a humorous blog and I really couldn’t figure out how to spin that one into something hilarious. I’m totally fine now, by the way. Joke’s on you, squamous cell carcinoma.

Another blog worthy topic I might’ve written about…my oldest child graduated high school. That’s a big event, right? She was accepted to the University of Washington, her first choice school, and our families flew up for her graduation and it was fun and fine and I probably shed a few tears during the ceremony, I honestly don’t remember.

And then this summer she worked to save money and we talked about the things she would need for school. We bought new bedding for her dorm. And it was exciting and I was fine.  We bought storage drawers and a mini fridge. And I was fine. We ordered her textbooks online a few days ago and shipped them to her dorm address. And still I was fine.

And then yesterday we packed everything into the car, drove the car onto the ferry and set off for UW in Seattle. We moved her into a clean, bright, nearly brand new dorm building, we had a lovely dinner with her roommate and her super nice family, and it all should have been fine.

But when I hugged my daughter good-bye and watched her walk down the city street, away from us, her family, her protectors, it was like watching her walk straight out of her childhood. And into the unknown. And then I was not fine. So now, I’ll write.

It’s like I’ve been hit with the emotional equivalent of a hurricane. I mean, I figured I’d be sad when she left. You can’t spend every single day of 18 years with someone and then not miss them when they move away. Even if your kid is a pain in the ass. Which mine isn’t, by the way, which probably makes it harder.

And I knew I would feel worry. Because up until now I knew pretty much where my child was at all times.  I knew what time she went to bed, what time she woke up, and what she ate for breakfast. Now, overnight, she’s living in a big city and I don’t know if she got enough sleep or what she’s wearing or if she remembered to bring a jacket.  The only word I can think of to describe all of this not-knowing is…unsettling.

Along with the worry, strangely, is guilt. Second-guessing everything I ever did as a parent. Did I adequately prepare her for the “real” world? Did I scare her too much or not enough? Will she really keep the pepper spray in her backpack? Will she use it if she has to? Why didn’t I make her take a self-defense class? Does she know how to mail a package? Did I ever tell her the post office closes at 5:30?

Anger. I didn’t expect to feel anger. Yes, I am pissed off at the world right now for not preparing me for this. How many pieces of unsolicited advice do we get in our years of parenting? Thousands? At every other milestone I felt inundated with information and opinions.  People talk endlessly about how hard it is having a newborn, the sleepless nights, the endless diapers.  Breastfeeding, co-sleeping.  The toddler tantrums. Picky eater preschoolers, time-outs. Screen time rules, stomach flu, nightmares. The middle school years…hormones, mean girls, bullying. High school…peer pressure, drugs, alcohol, academic stress. Texting and driving. And so on.  I mean, you can’t get people to shut up about that stuff.

But when you mention your child is leaving for college, the response has been invariably, “Oh, how exciting!” and that’s pretty much it. Well, now that it’s happened I’m like, “Wait a minute!  Why did NOBODY tell me, I mean REALLY tell me, that, THIS, THIS is the milestone that is the absolute hardest parenting time of all?” Not one single person said, “Oh, your child is leaving for college? I’m so sorry, that totally sucks for you.”  And of COURSE I am happy for her. And of COURSE I am excited for her. And no, I wouldn’t rather her stay home forever.  But none of that mitigates the fact that for me, the mom, it does totally suck right now. So I am telling you now, parents of younger children, because no one actually told me. It sucks. You’re welcome.

I read a quote years ago about being a parent that stuck with me, “The days are long, but the years are short.” Man, truer words were never spoken.

People say, “Oh, you’re lucky that she’ll only be an hour away,” which until yesterday, actually gave me comfort. But I quickly realized that it doesn’t matter much if she’s not in her bedroom and she’s an hour away versus she’s not in her bedroom and she’s five hours away.  Either way, she’s not in her bedroom. Either way, the house is too quiet.

I keep having this vision in my head of my little girl walking away, towards her building, and in this vision I’m fighting back tears and yelling,  “WAIT!  Turn around!  Please, I’m not done yet.  I need more time…just a little more time!”

But my time is up and all I can do is hope that I used it well.

And though my heart is heavy and my emotions are muddled, my head is clear, and I do know the truth of the matter. I may need just a little more time…but she doesn’t. She’s strong and she’s smart and she’s beautiful and she’s ready. She’s all yours, world. Please treat her kindly.



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36 comments on “Just A Little More Time

  1. nana says:

    I’m so glad you posted this. It’s so true.

  2. Renee Maldonado says:

    Oh Janene, how reading this brought back to the very same memories and emotions of when we dropped Alex off at school and I remember her walking away…

    My best friend of over 30 years told me a few years back that the hardest years of parenting are between 18-30 (she has 4 adult children). That completely threw me off! Now with a 24 and 20 year old I get it. Hang on there are joys and sorrows in this new chapter of life…remind your friends who are young mothers to love those “difficult” years because they will cherish those memories as I’m sure down the road I will these too. Take Care :))

  3. Maxine says:

    Hi Janene. I know how you feel bc I felt that too when Krystle went to college. Same exact feelings. You wrote this so eloquently and it brought tears to my eyes. You have the gift of writing what everyone is thinking but unable to put into words. I miss and love you all. I cant
    believe she is in college already, such a beautiful young lady! God will keep her safe so you can have no fear.

  4. Mary Lasnier says:

    Hi Janene! Thank you for sharing such personal feelings. I throughly enjoyed reading this! Our 25 yr old has been gone for a few years & our 20 went away for a year & came back to go to school locally. It’s always hard to see them go, but it’s also exciting to see them grow!! Watching them be the adult you hoped they be, or making their own choices! The first time our oldest made her own Drs appt (as an adult!) I was so proud! But it’s the little things that help you know you did the right thing!! Enjoy & soak up phase 2 of her life!!

  5. Sherry Friedrick says:

    Love this! It’s so true. Ross is a junior and I’m already feeling the slip of time.

  6. Ribin says:

    Made me cry… and it brought so many of the same feelings I had back to the surface…my last child Lyndsey will probly leave and I will have a breakdown for sure! 😦

  7. Linda Nelson says:

    Left my comment on your fb page. This is priceless!

  8. Fran Collica says:

    Janene, this was a very imotional blog. I actually remember Hannah when was born. I was so happy to share this with you and your family. She is such a beautiful young lady inside and out. You and Brian did a fabulous job with her. I just know she will accomplish great things in her life. You should feel sad that your first born is out of your safe home and into this crazy world. But you both raised her to know right from wrong and she will make you proud. This blog actually brought tears to my eyes. Love to you all. Fran.❤️👍🏻😘

    • janene says:

      Thank you, Fran! When is our favorite Bainbridge houseguest coming back to visit??

      • Fran Collica says:

        Janene, I wish I was there right now. I love Bainbridge. Lisa hopefully one day wil invest in a home up there. I would love to go there from time to time. I would be so happy to invite you to a dinner. You could be my guest for a change. I hope she buys something before I’m 90. Love you and your wonderful family.

  9. Heather jo says:

    Janene. She is so lucky and so ready. I never thought of it the way u wrote it and cried my eyes out.
    Be proud … be so very proud of what your have done to her, for her.
    I’m so sorry for you. I feel so sorry and at the same time know NOONE more ready to jump into that great world surrounded by a safe, loving community.
    Hang in there mama❤️

  10. robyn price says:

    Oh god I’m the one who bought you the mandolin. I feel like I may have said don’t tell me when you slice your finger off. But I thought the thing had a guard to prevent loss of phalanges. Does perfectly sliced eggplant need to come with such a price? OY! Anyway I hope you are OK, how many stitches did you get?
    This blog post was beautiful. Thank you for sharing a piece of your heart & soul. How proud you must be of your stunning Hannah. Miss & Love u.

  11. Lisa Garruba says:

    Very touching and oh so true. Now as you stand on the side line and watch the beautiful, warm hearted , loving little girl you raised turn into the woman you always hoped she would be….you will feel joy and pride knowing you did in fact do a great job. Best of luck to Hannah! 😘Lisa G

  12. June Vinci says:

    Hi Janene,

    I’m a friend of your mothers here in Laguna Niguel who sent both boys to UDUB. The first one was rough and I used to sit in his closet and smell his clothes and wonder if he would ever call other than for money. It took me three days to leave WA after he started school. The second and last was a little easier since he was going to the same school with his older brother but still hard to let go.

    My son, Joseph is a junior at UDUB currently and if your daughter has questions please let me know. We will be going up for the Oregon game Nov 3-5 and would love to meet her.

  13. Valerie Mariani says:

    You have put into words what only a mother’s heart can feel!!!

  14. MOM says:

    It hurt me that my daughter was hurting, but I knew in my heart that Hannah was ready, even if Janene & Brian weren’t, to spread her wings and make her mark on this world. Parenting is a tough job, but I am so proud of the way my daughter & son-in-law have instilled in their daughter a sense of independence, sense of decency, and a desire to change the world. Hannah is bound for great things and I hope I am around long enough to witness them!❤️

  15. Gregg Greenberg says:

    Powerful stuff. Don’t wait so long until your next post.

  16. Vicki Scott says:

    Great read Janene! I could’ve told you how hard it is to leave a child at college. Try leaving your child in Texas, on crutches with a dislocated ankle😢 I cried the whole night before I left and the entire plane ride home.
    It does make it a little easier that she’s only an hour away but you are right, her bed is still empty.

  17. Darienzo Lorraine Marino says:

    Nice article!
    -Not Lorraine

  18. Marie Darienzo Brown says:

    I loved this, Janene, and totally understand. Just know that she will be fine. And when she has a need, she knows that your door is always open or you are only a phone call away if she has questions or concerns. Kristen got married 2 weeks ago. Like you, I was fine. No tears. Just happy. Then, that evening Bob and I were walking thru Disney Springs and a woman was playing the piano singing “Can you feel the love tonight” from the Lion King. I lost it. Totally. I could see my little babies watching that movie like it was yesterday!!

  19. Nancy Luxon says:

    So beautifully written Janene. Brought all those same emotions right back from when we first dropped Sarah off at UA. You and Brian have raised such an intelligent, beautiful, and confident young woman in Hannah and I have no doubts that she is ready to take on the world. Enjoy the next four years, and embrace her college experience. Have fun at the parents and family weekends. Her room will always there and she will look so forward to coming home for visits. She is so lucky to have a Mom who loves as you do! Hugs to you my friend!

  20. Libby says:

    Janene, I’d like to blame my tears in your blog, but the truth is they were already flowing! I forgot to send Lauren with an umbrella!!! Can you believe it? That’s what set me off today. I’ve had the mama blues for a couple weeks now he wasn’t so bad the first week because I didn’t know what was making me so upset. I thought it was just all the little things going wrong in my day. Now that I Know that missing my baby is the cause of my blues, The tears come even more easily!! I’m not worried about Lauren…she is a fabulous young lady and I’m confident she is going to have a successful freshman year. It’s the fact that I can’t see her, talk to her, hug her every day! Will she ever come “home?” Maybe she won’t ever move back and that makes me question whether or not I spent enough time with her!!! Ahhhhhh!!! Like you, I was definitely not prepared for this!!! Xoxo Libby

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