He’s Not Homesick But His Mom Is

It’s been a month since my son, Matthew left for college.  I had promised myself that I wouldn’t be a basket case and would not need a prescription for Xanax or several bottles of wine, although I purchased a few just in case.   All summer I knew this day was coming but boy, it sure showed up faster than I expected.

He drove down with his dad to the school the night before he was to move in, and I drove down the next morning with my parents so that they could finally see the campus.  We got to his new dorm early and started moving his things in.  I tried keeping myself busy by making his bed and unpacking his dishes and glasses.  After about an hour, he gently touched my arm and said “Hey mom, I think I can handle it from here.”   I forced myself to smile and suggested we go eat lunch instead.

Moving In The Dorm

After small talk over lunch my parents and I realized it was time to head on out.  I am actually proud of myself not turning into a blubbering mess when we were leaving and not squeezing the life out of him when I gave him the biggest hug of his life.  He sweetly kissed my cheek and said “I’ll be fine mom.  I promise I’ll text you.  I love you.”

I held it together until I got in the car and then I just boo-hooed all the way back to Atlanta.  I cried to the point where I had massive amounts of snot and I was running out of tissues and I was sucking in short, rapid breaths like toddlers do when they have a meltdown.  But I made it.

Matthew & Mom

So day one came and went and I didn’t hear from him.

Day two came along and I finally heard the familiar country song that plays as his ring tone coming from the bottom of my purse.  I dropped everything and dug down into the black abyss that is my purse, searching for my phone.

“Hey Mom!  I have the funniest story to tell you…” and he went on to tell me about his first night on campus.   We talked for a while and then he said he’d call me later in the week.  My heart filled as he hung up with  “love you Mom”.

Day two came along and once again I heard country music coming from inside of my purse.  “Hey Mom!  Can you tell me how to set up my printer?”

Day three…”Hey Mom!  Rush starts next week.  What do you think I should wear?”

And so it goes.  He is now one month into his college life and I have heard from him just about every single day.  Every time I hear the first few notes of that country music song my heart double beats.

And even though I don’t get to see him every day like I used to, in a weird way I am getting more quality time with him with each phone call.  We are actually talking, not just saying hello like we used to when he’d come home and go straight upstairs.  He tells me about his day – new friends he’s made, funny things that have happened, and we just talk in general.  And I’m really happy with our new, mature communication even though I know the phone calls and text messages will slow down as he becomes more and more comfortable with living on his own.

The house is quiet without him and I’m the one who ended up homesick, but I am proud to say that I didn’t need all of those bottles of wine after all.

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Another Year Older…Dang It.

My 44th birthday is coming up this month. When I was in my 20’s, being in my 40’s seemed to be SO FAR OFF. Holy cow. When the heck did this happen?

On my mother’s last birthday, my 93 year old grandmother asked how old she was. My mother, who we call “Ninny” replied, “Well how old do you THINK I am?” My grandmother thought for a few moments and said “42?” My mother told her she was CORRECT. (Ninny later told me that she doesn’t want my grandmother to really know how old my mother is because then my grandmother will realize that she is 93!)

Birthdays have always been so much fun for me. I’ve always loved them – no matter whose birthday it is. And now that I’m older, when I look back it seems like something crazy always happens on my birthday.

On the day I turned 18, I was a fun loving college student at Mississippi State University. I was so excited because back in 1986 if you were 18, you were of legal drinking age. Unfortunately for me the VERY NEXT DAY – October 1st, the drinking age changed to 21. And there was no grandfathering. So I was legal for 24 hours and then I couldn’t drink legally for another THREE years. Talk about a buzz kill.

On my 25th birthday I was married and six months pregnant. On my 30th birthday I was going through a very bitter, two-year divorce and custody battle.

I spent my 35th birthday at the hospital with Ninny while my father was having surgery for Melanoma. Halfway during the day, mom looked over at me and said “Oh! It’s your birthday!” Then she smirked and sing-said “Ha-ha-ha You’re 35 years old!!!” I just smiled at her and said “Well, at least I can say that I don’t have a 35 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER.” SCORE for the smart ass daughter.

On my 40th birthday I went to dinner with a nice fellow but found out a few days later that he was interested in pursuing someone else. Apparently my competition was not another girl.

My birthdays are starting to get better though. On my 41st birthday, I was on day 4 of my honeymoon. How awesome is that? Wedding cake + birthday cake = heaven.

Birthdays 42 & 43 were both spent with my sweet hubby at the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. For my 44th? I’ve been told it’s a surprise, but it better involve cake!

I still have 49 more years to go until I make it to my grandmother’s age.

And as much craziness as I’ve had over my last 44 birthdays, I will be thrilled if the next 44 are just as fun…because at least that will mean I have lived until at least age 88.

Dang it. I just realized I’m already halfway there.

I just opened a birthday card & a dollar fell out. Oh how I love birthdays!

It’s All Greek To Me

My college student has officially started rush week. My husband and I have both told him that this week will be one of the most fun parts of his college years. And for him, it’s only the beginning.

Even though it’s been well over 20 years ago, I can still smell the hazy cigarette smoke and stale spilled beer throughout the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house at Mississippi State University. I was lucky enough to be invited and initiated as a “Little Sister of Minerva”, or an SAE Little Sister.

I’m convinced that Kurt Cobain copied the grunge style from the SAE’s at Mississippi State. They were way ahead of their fashion time with their long stringy hair with the occasional mullet (hey – it was the 80’s!), and disintegrating t-shirts saying “You Can’t Spell State Without SAE!”

The house was probably one of the strangest on Fraternity Row. For some reason someone thought that a very plain, two story rectangular, red brick building would look better by adding a church-like addition (minus the steeple). Nestled in with the Southern Plantation, white columned style homes of Kappa Alpha, Pike, and Kappa Sig houses, the SAE house stood out like a sore thumb. Besides the fact that the house looked like an old gas station, an eclectic mix of sofas and chairs were usually strewn out in the front yard along with the previous night’s beer bottles and empty solo cups. Are you having visions of “Animal House” yet? If so, you’re right on track.

Dancing to a live band playing “Brown Eyed Girl”, or sitting on the roof watching the sun rise (and laughing at girls trying to sneak out of the frat house in the wee hours of the morning), or the Little Sister/Big Brother Wine & Cheese party, or dressing up as a 1920’s gangster’s widow during Paddy Murphy week. These are just slivers of my fun memories.

And now my son Matthew is going through rush. I don’t care what fraternity he chooses to pledge, I just want him to pick the one that fits his personality the best. And the most important thing I hope he gets from going through rush is realizing the lifelong friends he will make. Many of the friends on my Facebook page are my SAE big brothers…and I was just a little sister! The depth of lifelong brotherhood that he will be a part of upon joining a fraternity is immeasurable.

And although I know he’s going to have fun, I hope he realizes that there are some things he should and should not do. I won’t name names here, but holding a pizza guy hostage for more pizza probably isn’t the smartest thing to ever do, but keeping beer in the coke machine? That, my dear brothers, was BRILLIANT!!!

I made the fun photo above using StoryMark. For more information, visit http://www.storymarklife.com or download for free in the iPhone app store or Android Market.

Home Really Is Where Your Mom Is

Is this really happening?

I found myself standing in my son’s room today. Not in a creepy watching-him-as-he’s-sleeping kind of way. Just standing there, looking around at all of his posters tacked to the walls. I see the “Captain” stripes on his letter jacket gently strewn across the chair. Prom pictures of him and his girlfriend are stapled to the wall by his bed.

But something is different: He is leaving for college.

His Pink Floyd, Dave Matthews & Beatles posters are rolled up neatly with a rubber band keeping them safe. His guitar stand is sitting by the door and his guitar is nestled comfortably in it’s hard case. Two big brown boxes sit by the door filled with his lava lamp, some clothes, his x-box, favorite pillows and his Mac. There are no dirty boxer shorts or t-shirts tossed on the floor. There aren’t any empty Dr. Pepper cans on the bedside table. The TV is off.

And the lump that has been growing in my throat for the past three months is suddenly about to burst. He looks over at me and I realize that I’m about to lose it. I exclaim that I need to go stir the spaghetti sauce that has been simmering on the stove for the past three hours. I race down the stairs, bypassing the kitchen altogether, hoping that I can make it to my bedroom before the tears start to flow. Once the sniffles start, it’s a dead giveaway.

Where did the time go? Wasn’t it just yesterday that he couldn’t wait to ride the bus to school for his first day of kindergarten? Wasn’t it just last week that he found a hair under his armpit –( yes that was meant to be singular)? Didn’t he just grow out of the kid’s department at Abercrombie & Fitch?

Matthew’s First Day of Kindergarten

I watched him grow from a funny and animated little boy into a kind and independent man. He took care of his “mama” after his dad and I divorced, and ultimately became the “man of the house”. Over the next ten years, it was just me and him. I went to every school event – talent shows, teacher conferences, and just about every single hockey game, and of course I was always the loudest mom there. I even took him and his friends on a very memorable camping trip (they didn’t realize that I could hear them talking about Pamela Anderson’s boobs through the paper thin tent walls).

State Hockey Champs 2011

When I finally met my husband, my son carefully “gave me away” at the wedding, knowing that he would eventually be leaving for college and that I had found a wonderful husband to love and share my life with.

Why does this hurt so much? I remember being his exact same age and heading off to college. I was so excited – just as he is. I know what’s in store for him and I am filled with joy knowing he is going to have such an amazing experience. I’ve given him all of the advice about studying hard, and have even given him the speech that “I’m too young to be a grandma.” I know that this is just the beginning of the rest of his life. But as a mom it’s still a bitter pill to swallow.

So as I stand here looking around his room, the lump in my throat comes back and my eyes start to tear up again. I realize that all of his memories from his younger years are either being left behind or packed away in boxes to take with him. I hope that he knows he will take something else with him that’s even more fragile than his beloved Beatle’s Blue Album…

He’ll take his mother’s heart with him.

Being “There” When You Can’t “Be There”

By Dana McIntyre @danamcintyre1

If you’ve read some of my other blogs, you already know that my father recently underwent a stem cell transplant. (If you didn’t, then get to reading!) He was in the hospital for over two weeks which, unfortunately, coincided with his first grandson’s graduation from high school.

We planned on using iPhone FaceTime so that he could watch the graduation live, but since we did not have internet at the stadium that idea fell through. I tried calling and letting him hear the graduation over the phone but there was so much feedback that he was unable to determine what was being said.

We planned on using StoryMark to document his graduation anyway and it worked out perfectly because I was able to record Matthew’s name being announced as he crossed the stage to get his diploma. I recorded the Superintendent of Schools announcing the Class of 2012 graduated. I captured the class chanting and tossing their caps after all was said and done. And I was able to text it to my dad immediately so he was “there” when he technically “wasn’t there”.

And as much as I love using StoryMark, I’m thrilled that my dad’s transplant was a success…and that he can be there in person for my son’s COLLEGE graduation!

Tossing the caps! Using StoryMark with an Instagram Pic! – YouTube.