Shipping the last child off to college is an awkward time. It is awkward because the space you have occupied the last eighteen years has changed and evolved into something foreign. This isn’t a good or bad thing, simply something a mother experiences. To boil it down to one sentence, you’re connected to your children via a virtual umbilical cord from the time you push the seven pound (if you’re lucky) cherub through your loins to taking pictures of excited teens before senior prom. Then they’re gone.
A scene from the movie, Bridges of Madison County comes to mind. Francesca, wife and mother, is in the throes of a steamy three-day fling with Robert, a photographer in town for a short time. In the scene, they are having a conversation wherein she explains her emotions and why she must end the relationship. (you may want to have a tissue handy.)
“Robert, please. You don’t understand, no-one does. When a woman makes the choice to marry, to have children; in one way her life begins but in another way it stops. You build a life of details. You become a mother, a wife and you stop and stay steady so that your children can move. And when they leave they take your life of details with them. And then you’re expected to move again only you don’t remember what moves you because no-one has asked in so long. Not even yourself.”
I know, I know, a little dramatic but a powerful statement, nonetheless. For the record, I am not having a steamy affair with a photographer or anyone else for that matter, but I am a mother who has shipped her last child off to college.