The Green Light at the End of the Tunnel

By Jane McGovern

I can see the headlines now: “Youngest Child Leaves for Senior Year of College; Callous Mom Stays Home.” That would be me. I am the callous mother who is over the college drop-off. Even now I am running through various scenarios of how I can remain home from this momentous occasion in my parenting life. Headache? Too obvious. No room in the car? Not likely. Too busy? Not valid. Maybe I will “accidentally” twist my ankle and have to stay home and elevate. You know, ICE. I think it stands for Ice cream, Couch and Eat as much as you want while watching Netflix. You would think that dropping my third and youngest child off would garner more excitement on my end. On paper, I’m overjoyed. I just don’t want to be bothered with the physical reality of lugging his tired, worn college dorm room accoutrements up the stairs and setting it up yet again. I gave birth to this child… isn’t that enough?

The excitement on my end will come later in the year. No, not graduation, although that will be a big day. The moment my husband and I have been anticipating for 15 years is within sight… the Final Tuition Payment. Just thinking about it makes me giddy! Our first two children attended private high schools, so the tuition payments started years ago. The high school years were a financial struggle, but manageable. Compared to the college years, they were as false labor is to transition and the big push. The college years have been a crushing burden… one that we happily bore, yet still a burden.

But now the end is in sight. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It is a very bright light and it may be green and not white, and it is calling me by name. It is enticing me with all kinds of fun things that this newly available cash can now provide. A trip to Ireland? Why I’d love to! How about an adorable Mini-Cooper convertible? I’ve always wanted one! Would you like to rent a ski-house for the season? Awesome idea! Ahhhhh, the options are endless.

I try to push the reality of launching my youngest, most vulnerable child into the cold, dark world to the back of my mind. Will he find a job that fulfills him? Will he be able to support himself? Will he take care of himself? Did I teach him how to clean the bathroom? A mom’s life means worrying, no matter the age of the child. So for now, I will focus on the tangible, feel good reality of more Benjamins in our bank account. Ireland, here I come!