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  • Writer's pictureKelly Marks

Growing Up

On Thursday evening, I sat in the darkened theater at UNC and listened to some great music. It was my favorite way to see a concert - alone. The circle I travel in always seems to ask questions, point out random things, or ask for gum, snacks, or what time it is during the concert. And for the record: no, this is not a child; it’s a husband. Well, I guess he could be considered both?


On Thursday, I drove to Chapel Hill, got to have dinner with my favorite musician, went to the concert hall, and found a seat far away from other people. I sat back in peace and quiet to listen to the music. And it was fabulous. It was a night at the pops. The first band played music from Les Mis, Phantom of the Opera, the Music Man. The next band played both the poignant, haunting music from Schindler‘s List, and the fun, lively music from Star Wars, ET, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Just a super show all the way around.


As the band took their final bows, I looked at my watch and cringed. It was after 10 PM. We still had to go to the dorm, pick up clothes and drive back to Charlotte. It was going to be a long night. The night before I had fallen asleep on the couch at 9 PM, but I had a sneaking suspicion that my companion for the ride might possibly talk a little and keep me awake.


I was right. We talked all the way and had a very good discussion. I have been feeling needy lately. Let me explain.


There have been a few times in my life when I have been blindsided. One such time was the extent to which having a baby would change my life. I knew there would be more work, more laundry, more dishes, more cooking, but I didn’t expect to have a fraction of the time in which to do it all. Completely shocked me.


Another time was the empty nest thing. I had felt such a dread, knowing that Madi would be heading off to college. It was a pit in the bottom of my stomach. And it just sat there all the time. I knew it was coming.


Turns out it wasn’t so bad. Coming into an empty house that first day after drop off was a little brutal, but literally within a couple of days we were adjusted, and we liked our empty nest. We congratulated ourselves. We had done it. We had let our baby go, and we had survived. And besides, she’d be home for Christmas and summer.


Uh oh. Before we got too full of ourselves, here came a semester abroad. How in the world would we let her go so far away for over three months? When she landed in London, she shared her location with me, and a map popped up on my phone. It showed my location on the East Coast of North America and her location across the Atlantic Ocean, and it said 3990 miles away. That was unsettling, but we soon found a new rhythm with our different time zones.


We had done it. We had let our baby go far away. And besides, she was going to be home in 3 1/2 months.


Enter the Burch fellowship. A scholarship that will allow Madi to travel back to Italy this summer to research Italian versus American styles of teaching music. She’ll be alone this time, but I console myself that she’ll only be gone for six weeks. We can do it, and besides, it’s only 6 weeks.


This all leads me to another thing that has blindsided me: the transition as college winds down.


I never thought past leaving for college. I have always added “and besides, she’ll be home…” Now things are getting a little more dicey.


Up until this weekend, our schedules haven't given us time to visit her this semester; then we found out she’d be gone this summer; then she started talking about staying in the Raleigh area after graduation; then she mentioned that she wasn’t sure she would be able to come home for spring break. Cue a Mom Freakout!!



I know a parent's job is to raise a child to be independent and ready to go out into the world, but come on. Apparently, I didn’t think it through. What have I done? Now I’m stuck with Paul. Does anyone see the thinly veiled SOS???




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jllbrett46
jllbrett46
12 mar 2023

All of this is soooo true, and soooo sad, even if they end up very competent, independent people, which we want above all things! We just don't want to be excluded from their lives!

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