Minnesota

Home from Minnesota…

My daughter and I left Texas for Minnesota at 6am on Wednesday. After a brief layover at Midway (Chicago dogs for late breakfast for the win!), we arrived at the Minneapolis airport around 1pm. We lugged all the suitcases to the rental car kiosks and grabbed our rental car and hit the road. St. Peter is about an hour drive from the airport, but it was lovely… all fields and farms and silos. When we finally arrived in St. Peter, the picturesqueness seems to only continue. The town is beautiful. There are brick buildings from one end of Main Street to the other and all the little homes looked so cute. Seriously, the entire time we were there, I never saw a house in that town that was in any state of disrepair.
We got checked into our hotel and then headed out for a bite to eat. We ended up eating at the same restaurant three times while I was there because the food was so good. The restaurant was Patrick’s on 3rd. I think I ate my weight in fried cheese curds. Friday was Move In Day so we spend Wednesday and Thursday either toodling around St. Peter exploring the shops and restaurants or running pre-dorm errands. Having those days to just chill out with my daughter was super nice. We didn’t have any solid plans so we just got to spend time together and if we felt like driving somewhere, we jumped in the car and took off. If we wanted to walk around town and poke our heads into little stores, we did. But mostly, we wanted to explore the school campus which we did a lot of.
Friday morning, we got up and loaded all of the bags back into the car. We made the short drive from the hotel to the college campus and were greeted with a wall of enthusiastic college students. They were all dressed in yellow t-shirts and were waiting at each of the college entrances. They yelled things like “welcome home!” and “we’re so glad you’re here” and chanted a variety of the school’s cheers. Now, I don’t know if they do this at all colleges, but if they don’t – they should. It is so much fun to pull into your new school and experience this wave of positive energy. My throat tightened up as we drove past them all. A few minutes later we were parked in front of the dorm unloading suitcases into the grass for the football players to take upstairs. My daughter’s room was on the fifth floor so I was pretty pleased that we had help.
Once all of her stuff was in the dorm, we got busy unpacking and setting it all up. This is really the only part of the trip where I felt rushed. I knew the clock was ticking and I had a limited amount of time before I had to head back to the airport. I wanted to make sure we got everything done. We were unpacked in no time and took the opportunity to head out to Patrick’s for one last lunch. We stopped and grabbed a few things we hadn’t know she would need before running back to the campus. We headed over to the admissions office and got her ID and signed a few pieces of paperwork and then we were done. She laughed at me as I loaded an entire walmart bag with pinecones to bring home. Our goodbye was fast and thankfully tear free. She has never been a cryer and I am but I think this goes to show just how confident I am in the choice we made for her to go to school there. I am not afraid or even worried leaving her there. Similar to having left Connecticut a few months ago, I flew home knowing both of these girls are ok. I can worry that they won’t eat healthy or that they’ll be late or that they won’t change their socks or brush their teeth enough, but as far as just being all right? I know they will be all right. And as I drove out of St. Peter towards Minneapolis, I just felt so proud. This kid has worked so hard to get to exactly where she is and I know she is going to be so happy over the next four years as she lives there and starts her life and gets her degree.

almost time…

This past weekend, my daughter and I packed all of the stuff she is taking to college and then we laid down on her bed together and created an amazon wish list for all of the random stuff she’d love to receive in the mail while she is there. Washi tape, post it notes, index cards, relatively healthy snacks, mint tea… As we were working on that, The GingerBeard Man brought us a tray of chips and queso he had made. We snacked and clicked “add to list” and chatted about our upcoming trip to Minnesota. A few hours later, we were done and I went off to do my normal Sunday chores. I packed lunchboxes and did laundry and mopped the floors. It was just a normal weekend.
Yesterday I woke up riddled with anxiety. I couldn’t take enough deep breaths. I just walked around work taking deep breath after deep breath, trying to calm my nerves. Trying to figure out why they were buzzing so much. I hadn’t slept well the night before and I was so distracted that morning making breakfast and packing lunches for the little girls that one of them asked me if I was ok. In response to a message from The GingerBeard Man asking how my day was going, I admitted that I felt really anxious and I wasn’t sure why. He responded with “your daughter is moving away in two days.”
Today I woke up with some different feelings. I am still super anxious, but I am also so very emotional. Thinking about anything makes tears sting my eyes. I’ve had a knot in my stomach and a lump in my throat since I opened my eyes this morning. Today, I can see more clearly how much moving my daughter away to college is affecting me. I can tell that any thought process about her in any way is making me teary eyed.
It doesn’t change the fact that I am so happy for her and even more proud of her. But my very logical thought processes about all of this are failing to convince my heart today. Today all I can seem to do is worry about her and think about how much I will miss her.

Just a few more days…

On August 31st, I will be taking my second oldest daughter to Minnesota. Our flight leaves bright and early Wednesday morning.
I think she has settled into a kind of quiet and contemplative mood about it. Weeks ago, it was all boisterous excitement and energy, but the last few days have been more of a nesting type attitude, lots of doing laundry and making lists of things to remember to pack or do.
I had a lengthy chat with a coworker the other day, she also has children who are grown and out on their own, and we talked about how it’s heart wrenching but also, how right it is. Do I love the idea of my kids moving thousands of miles away and starting their lives on their own? No. Ha! But also, yes. Yes, I want brave children who face the world of adulthood and newness and embrace the challenges and fears. I want children who jump out of the nest and fly. I want children who are not tethered to me because they are leading their own lives. I am so glad that I was able to raise these types of children. I’m so proud of these girls.
So on September the second, when I drop my rental car off and wheel the empty suitcases into the airport so I can fly home, my heart will break knowing I am leaving yet another child behind and alone, but it will also be so very full of joy that she is starting off her adult life with every ounce of bravery I had wished for her for the last eighteen years.

Selling the house & buying a new one…

Night before last, The GingerBeard Man and I were having a chat and once again visited the idea of selling the house and moving. We’ve discussed this a few times now but haven’t actually done much more than check out zillow and consider whether we should move the two remaining girls from their school or let them stay there.
There are two towns we’ve been considering. One is the town where I work and where both girls attend school. It is about fifteen miles away from our current home, in the opposite direction of the way The GingerBeard Man’s job. The other town is about twenty miles away, but towards where he works. The town where my job and the girls’ schools are is pretty small, it boasts less than a thousand people. The other town is a little bigger with a population of twelve thousand. Initially we were considering the bigger town. The girls are entering their first year of middle and high school, so it’s a good time to move them. But as a kid, I was moved every few years from school to school and I have such a hard time putting them through that.
The GingerBeard Man said that he thinks we should move into the smaller town. That the girls would both be able to walk to school, to activities, around the town itself and so could we. If we wanted to go grab a drink, we could. If we needed something from the grocery store, it’s right down the road. I think he sometimes misses the convenience of living in the city. He made a huge lifestyle change moving from a large city into the very small, very spread out, very country town that we currently live in.
So now, we are considering our options. The first step will be to get the house on the market. No small feat and not one that we are really prepared for right now. Not only have neither of us ever sold a home before, but the house has been in what can only be considered a constant state of disarray for the last few weeks. My oldest daughter has moved back home with her three cats and while almost all of her stuff has went into storage, I now have someone living in the living room. My second oldest daughter has started working on clearing out her room and packing all of her stuff for the move to Minnesota in a few months so that entire side of the house looks like a tornado has come through it. Oh and she is on a ten day trip to DC right now, so it’s probably not going to be cleaned any time soon. Unless I do it. And I probably will, lol.
I’ve just decided to put almost everything on hold until after the trip to Connecticut. Once that trip is done, I will reassess and see what our next steps are. Otherwise it just feels like we are fighting a losing battle against the house. And for what? In three months, it will just be us and the two younger girls with plenty of time to do everything we need or want to do. So for now, patience and planning.

My last Mother’s Day

You know, sometimes you get super excited about a certain day… like your birthday or Mother’s Day and then when the days happens and it’s just another day, you get all bummed out? That used to happen to me a lot. It’s like the curse of being a single mom. Unless someone else steps in and helps your kids do some secret planning or shopping, then they really can’t do more than just be sweethearts. And that is enough of course, but sometimes they forget to be sweethearts altogether and you spend your Mother’s Day cleaning and doing laundry and trying not to kill them and at the end of it, you’re bummed because it was supposed to be a good day.
I’ve had those Mother’s days.. and I’ve had the ones where someone would step in and help the kids out and I would be surprised (or not, because – you know – kids aren’t all that sly, lol)… I’d come home to some cute little flower bouquet and some cards with handprints that were made in school or have the mornings where the kids brought me a practically inedible breakfast in bed. And of course it wasn’t the breakfast that you’d treasure, it was messy haired and beaming with pride little girls standing there while you ate it. Because those girls love you and they are glad you are their mother.
This year was different. I am so freaking hyper aware of all the time I am spending with my daughters right now. Having all four of my girls home on Sunday was more than enough to make everything right with my soul. Seeing their little sleeping faces and just being able to chat and hang out with them was so great. This is the last year that I know I will for sure have all of my daughters under one roof on Mother’s day. Gah. My heart.
I knew that the two older girls were up to something and when I woke up Sunday morning and crept out of my room for coffee, the sign in the photo was hanging in my kitchen. It is so perfect. I love it more than just about anything they’ve ever given me. For both the thought that went into it as well as what it symbolizes. These two are leaving me in the next few months and while I hope someday all of my girls will be close enough to me that we can spend weekends together like we did this weekend, I know it is unlikely. It is more likely that I will see them on Christmas and through facebook and we will catch up on phone calls and through photos. It brings my tears right to the surface.
I know I keep saying it. This is what is supposed to happen. I am so proud of these girls that they are courageously facing the new chapter in their lives. They are excited and happy and I’ve done my job. They are adults. They are leaving and that is exactly what is supposed to happen. They don’t need me and I am so grateful for that, but it is also kicking my ass a little. The closer we get to the end of June, when my oldest daughter and I make the trek to Connecticut, the more I feel my chest tighten at the thought. I’m going to miss her so much. I’m going to miss them both so much more than I even have words to express.

Minnesota bound…

Well she chose Minnesota.
I’m not surprised.
I paid the enrollment deposit this week and she is officially moving in August.
I’m so excited for her and for this adventure she is about to embark upon. Just as I am excited for my oldest daughter who is headed to Connecticut in June… but man, it’s so hard to think about them being gone.

I had my first daughter when I was sixteen, and my second daughter when I was eighteen. We all kind of grew up together. They made me into a mom, but also into an adult. They taught me pretty much everything that I know. For the last twenty years, my life has revolved around those two girls and the idea that they are now moving off to start lives without me is so perfectly wonderful and heartbreaking all at the same time.

My two younger girls will still be home for another four and seven years and that is wonderful but somehow doesn’t actually relieve any of the pressure on my heart. So for now, I am trying to enjoy the time before they leave. I’m trying to immerse myself in hanging out with them and spending as much time with them as I can.

This past weekend, I had planned to have the afternoon to myself. The GingerBeard Man had went off to hang out with a friend and all of the girls were busy with their own plans. I had spent the morning cleaning and doing laundry. Finished with my chores, I took a quick shower and started contemplating what I was going to do with myself for the rest of the afternoon. A chick flick? A nap? A walk?
But as I stepped out of the shower, I heard my dogs start barking. The bark turned from DANGER to EXCITEMENT and so I knew someone the dogs knew had arrived. A few minutes later, my oldest daughter walked in and asked me to make her pancakes.
She’d driven an hour from her apartment to my house, just for pancakes.
My initial reaction, and I think most moms would have this, was to be bummed that my free time had just disappeared. However, after a moment, I realized this could be the last time I get to make her pancakes. Or breakfast for that matter. And so, with a lump in my throat, I took down the pancake mix and turned on the stove.

Minnesota…

We met with the college representative for the school in Minnesota and they are absolutely everything that my daughter is looking for in her college. They are small and in a small town. My daughter grew up in a small town and one of the things she really didn’t want to do was go to college in a huge city somewhere. They have quiz bowl teams and super small class sizes… And basically every question that she asked, the lady answered in a way that made my daughter so excited and happy that she had applied to this random school 1,300 miles away from home. And while we are still waiting for two other financial aid offers from Texas schools, I feel pretty confident that she has found her college.

That said, she and I will be leaving the last week of August to make the drive from south central Texas to Minnesota. And we will be making that trip just two months after my oldest daughter and I make the drive to Connecticut.

MY BABIES ARE LEAVING ME.

I think it is maybe easier that they are both going to far away places at the same time. And all of my concerns about them being so far away are just normal concerns that any parent has when their kid is moving. I’m not worried about their safety more than I would be if they were moving an hour away – actually I’m most concerned about their weather. Like super concerned. I have all kinds of winter boots and coats in my Amazon basket because I have been researching which ones are best like crazy. I don’t want my girls to freeze to death. Neither of them has ever lived anywhere where it snows and now my oldest will have to learn to live AND drive in Connecticut. Luckily, we aren’t taking a vehicle to Minnesota – she is going to have a bike and rely heavily on public transportation.

Any tips or tricks about living in the Froze North? City Chick?