Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Return of Routines

A year ago, my daughter was getting ready to return to college for the second half of her freshman year and unbeknownst to me, I was headed into a massive depression. Between the cold, the snow and her absence, I bottomed out. With the help of good friends, understanding and patient family, a strong therapist and medication that made my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, I slowly climbed out of the ditch I fell into. But it wasn’t easy, pretty or fun.

I kept up good appearances to some and to some I just let my guts spew forth. I went to dinner with one friend and pushed my food around the plate, unable to eat any of the cheeseburger or fries I usually would wolf down. She talked through the whole meal because I had nothing to say. If I spoke, I often started crying.

I cried at my younger daughter’s fencing meet one weekend because my older daughter’s high school was represented at the competition. My husband hustled me into a corner where I could pull myself together privately.

I taught two classes and sometimes the students grounded me in the here and now and made me focus on the responsibilities I had, other times I felt jittery because of my new meds and the students reminded me of my daughter 200 miles away.

But, I survived. I came through it – albeit ten pounds heavier. But with more smiles and more understanding of how life trips us even when we are looking out for the cracks in the walkway.

Now, a year later, my daughter is leaving for the second half of her sophomore year and I’m about to start teaching my spring semester again. I’m sad she’s leaving, but I’m not despondent. I’ll miss her company, her humor and her ability to find anything I’ve misplaced in our house. I love the bonding we’ve done the past month – watching NCIS and NCIS LA, going for pedicures and shopping at Sephora. Those are memories I will treasure forever.

I know she’s leaving and returning to her life, future and routines I’m not a part of, nor should I be. But as that day looms closer and closer, I’m eager to get on with it.

I know I’m going to miss the sister noises from the third floor, even the arguments over the messy bathroom and the yells from the first floor as she watches football with her dad. I know the house will be too quiet, but waiting for her to leave is almost harder than her being gone. I miss her more with her here than with her back in her teeny tiny dorm room where I check in almost daily via Facebook to see how she’s doing.

I’m ready to get back to my writing and teaching schedule. But mostly, I’m so relieved that despite how sad I am and how disappointed I am in the bigger clothes I’m wearing, I’m heading into this winter standing taller with a healthier attitude about my own life. I may stumble along the way but I know, most of the time, that I too have a life that’s exciting and one that’s moving forward, not just one that’s filled with looking back.

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