Maudlin Musings On Farewell To College-Bound Daughter

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Courtesy photo

Heading out

By Susan Dromey Heeter, Joyful Musings

It’s bittersweet that I muse joyfully this week, bittersweet as summer moves way too fast and the thought of September looms much too close.

Full disclosure: I’m an educator – ask anyone who works in a school what s/he thinks about “Back to School” advertisements in July and you’ll hear a plethora of groans, myriads of sighs. You may even spot Kleenex, sense a bit of PTSD, feel the reverberations of angst.

Susan Dromey Heeter

I am among those people and while I deeply, deeply, deeply adore my job, summer for an educator is far more necessary than congressional recess, a spa weekend for the housewives of New York, Canyon Ranch for celebs.

But this summer, I not only  bask in the fleeting moments of the  beach, the birds, the warmth of summer, I also begin to mourn the departure of my baby girl. My oldest daughter will leave for California late August. California.  That place way over there – the one that’s warm, that seems so hip, that does not seem to have any leftover Pilgrims or people who grill with chAHcoal.  I’m sad.

And while I’m certainly happy for my daughter’s potential jaunt, I weep a bit.  I look at her elementary school pictures, the ones I have yet to put in order, the ones where I recognize my handiwork of a handmade sweater and hair cut, the ones where she’s so little. So little. And I sigh at just how fast it all goes – like July, like a summer, like a childhood.

I think of a friend who dropped her son off at the University of Wisconsin and cried all the way back to the O’Hare Airport.  Just sobbed. She just knew he was really out of the nest.  And I get that and know it’s vital to feel, heal and deal.

Nancy West photo

Susan Dromey Heeter of Dover, center, enjoys July 4 with Jen Hollidge and Ben Lafond, both of Concord.

I tend to mask sadness with humor – have joked I’ll have breast implants and botox in order to visit my baby girl in Cali.  But deep down? Wow. This really is it. This really is that moment when that adage of “Give them roots and wings” comes alive.

And you’d  think I’d be okay with this. My eldest spent a trimester in England, a summer in New York, weeks in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Arizona.  But this is different.  I won’t  be signing permission slips any longer, really will not be aware of the day to day. And, sure, I can be, but ask anyone who knows me of my helicopter parenting skills and you’ll find they are much more akin to Hindenburg parenting skills.  I’m a fan of independence for my children. Truly.   Growing up in a litter of children, I simply know no other way and, truly, find my children far better for it.

But that does not mean I will not be sad and maudlin as I anticipate my baby’s departure, as I see those horrid “Back to School” adverts and think “Off to school, off to California. ”

So, dear Joyful Musers, while I am not a proponent of summer time blues, I do thank you for letting me share my grief.  Sweet sorrow is deep, California is far, but, hey, those Pilgrims traveled quite a bit and look how that all ended.

Susan Dromey Heeter, a writer from Dover who recently let her hair go au natural white, debuts her new column “Joyful Musings” at Dromey Heeter is a secondary Spanish Teacher at Dover High School and the mother of two teenage daughters.  Writing has been her passion since her English majoring days at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.  Dromey Heeter has lived in The Netherlands, Alaska and currently basks in all things New England, including the frigid winters. An avid swimmer, Dromey Heeter’s great passion is to bring back body surfing as most children have no idea how to ride waves without ridiculous boogie boards. She also writes about thrift shopping and all things frugal  in a column called “Budget Vogue” for the New Hampshire Union Leader.


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