I Moved My Son to New York City: I Didn’t Get a Photo But I Got a Hug

Launch is my new buzz word.

If I whisper the word launch once a day, I’ve announced it at least ten times. As in: I’m getting ready to launch this, or that is about to launch, or have you seen the new launch of such and such?  It’s a hot word, and I’m going to overuse it until it’s no longer in vogue.

Plus, launch sounds sophisticated, announcing that something exciting is going to happen, the word just rolling off my tongue.

In my world, launch is constantly on my mind as it pertains to my household.  It applies to everything and anything in conjunction with my children’s determination to continue to grow, mature, and eventually leave the nest.  The nerve, right? Besides, it is more user friendly than the word ‘leave,’ which is what they are getting ready to do.  Add to the fact ‘launch’ does have a nice ring to it, if not a ‘buzz,’ and I’m repeating it all day long.

I can’t stop the natural progression, so I do my best to support it, which might be a bit weaker than embracing it, but it is the best I can muster under the circumstances.

mom and son hug
I don’t know how many more times I might have a chance to help my son move. (Twenty20 @stammiejo)

I Helped My Son Move Into New York for His Internship

So…in complete commitment to my new buzz word, a few weeks ago I found myself in full-throttle launch-mode when I drove – yes, drove – my first-born son to the City That Never Sleeps for a coveted summer internship which hopefully, yes, you guessed it, launches his post-college career.

If you had told me or even suggested that I would be driving into the largest city in the United States of America as the driver and not the passenger, I would have said no way, you are out of your mind. Too intimidating for this small-town girl to handle. I love New York and all the bustle that goes with it, but the train is my preferred mode of transportation. Me driving the car? Not so much.

But there I was, maneuvering in and out of traffic, through the theater district, being instructed by my GPS to cross Broadway (look, there’s Time Square!), and finally circling around closed streets and parade routes to take my son to his student housing on the Upper East Side. It was college move-in day all over again, but with less “stuff.”

Here I was, taking him into a situation that will only continue to propel him further away from home (think launch!) when all I really wanted to do was wrap him in a blanket and take him home.  The incongruity was not lost on me.

We had all hoped for such a work-related summer internship opportunity, and after one long month at home between the end of the spring semester and the beginning of the next phase, I knew he was ready for this launch. It was time.

Without much fuss, we quickly and efficiently got him moved in and settled. We have been down this road together before; we know how it’s done. His new room was spacious yet sterile, complete with two-and-half baths and a clean, shared kitchen minus the dishes, silverware, and dish detergent. My feeble attempt at trying to semi-stock the kitchen with simple paper plates and plastic silverware was declined, even when I asked again. However, toilet paper and a year’s supply of tissues were acceptable.

The motions were familiar, but the conversation was sparse. My son was nervous about this particular launch, and his way of disguising his nerves was to finish the menial tasks quickly with little discussion.

My only job was to make the bed, yet as I completed this familiar, comfortable chore, my mind wandered to the finality of it all:  how many more times would I be relegated with the assignment of making a bed, tucking in a sheet, fluffing a pillow?

When returning to college each semester, he travels by plane with several boxes of bedding and clothes shipped separately to meet him there.  I haven’t made that bed since freshman year, and now, in a flash, he will be a senior.

Glancing back at his unfamiliar bed with the all-too familiar comforter, it appeared all wrong yet somehow just right. The bed seemed too small, so out of proportion for his hulking man frame, just another indication that his run as a college student is coming to an end, and rather quickly.

We did a dry run to his new office on Park Avenue. We found a neighborhood restaurant for a late lunch, basking in the open-air ambiance and comfortable conversation that soothed both our nerves. We slowly walked back to the apartment building where I was going to leave my first-born in a ‘foreign land’ of the grown-up world. Our shared time was coming to an end, and I was dragging my feet.

I wasn’t invited back to his apartment, and it was clear he didn’t want a repeat of his freshman year drop-off when I had to dart from his dorm room to wallow in my sorrow, away from his new roommates. This good-bye was going to be on his terms, and it was obvious I was going to have to control myself.

The lump in my throat felt as natural as the routine of making his bed. Still, I couldn’t control my inability to talk at this moment any more than I could stop myself from finishing the business of making sure he had a place to rest his head his first night alone in the big city.

I asked for a picture. I was denied. Evidently it wasn’t necessary.

I asked for a hug. I was granted one. A big warm, hold-you-forever hug. Evidently it was necessary. And comforting.

As I drove out of the city, this time alone, through a long tunnel built under a river, the weight on my chest became suffocating, and not from exhaust fumes or the dense traffic.  I ached for what I had lost while I simultaneously cheered for what he had gained. Another bittersweet moment in the life of a parent happening in a flash, and there was nothing to do except ‘go with the flow,’ accept it, and be happy for the successful launch.

You Might Also Be Interested in Reading: 

Saying Goodbye is Easy: It’s the 24 Hours Afterward That are Hard 

A conference coordinator, a middle school English teacher, and a stay-at-home mom. are a few of the life experiences Jackie Tricolli has had on her way to rediscovering her passion for writing. Currently she blogs personal insights and essays related to her experiences as the care-taker of two rambunctious boys and what it now means to be an empty-nester. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, she lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia where she revels in the changing seasons. Jackie’s insights can be found at www.scribingwithscout.com. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.


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