Can you hear that?
A deep, loud, echoing, quiet resounds through the house. My baby daughter — the one who was so small, she used to sleep sideways on the pillow next to me during naps — has up and gone away to college.
She’s much taller than me now, and sleeping three hours away instead of on that long discarded pillow. That evil, wicked institution known collectively as “Higher Learning” has snapped her up in its jaws and probably won’t spit her out for four more years (or until she comes home over Labor Day).
I bless our oldest daughter who knew we’d need some comforting. She flew in to stay with us for a few weeks before jetting off to study abroad this fall.
But I can feel my fatherly duties slipping away. Well, not slipping away but changing. For the past 20 years I’ve been there by their side, cooking, cleaning, nurturing. I did it pretty darn well (except for those ugly months in the hospital back in the Dark Ages). That’s a role I took a lot of pride in. Sure, I’ve been a photographer, writer, teacher and husband, but it seems like the things I did best, just enrolled in Growing Up U.
I feel like I got hit by a Mack Truck (or at least a MacBook).
Before she left, I made a surprise for her dorm room. They were pictures almost two decades old. I found them in our files of her as a little kid. With humor and love, I combined words of advice and made little inspirational posters for her wall. They were beautiful and touching. And they kept falling down. No matter what kind of newfangled adhesive hooks I used, my advice just didn’t hold up. No metaphors there; my advice didn’t stick. The past fell down behind her bed.
Now we have to rely on her. Well actually, she has to rely on herself. Sure, we’re the safety net and financial backers of her latest scheme to mature. But a lot of this she’ll have to do on her own.
I’ll have to do a lot of things on my own too. Instead of using the excuse that my first and greatest role is “Father,” I’ll have to find other roles to fulfill. Maybe they are roles that already exist; anybody need anything edited, photographed, written or taught? Inquire within.
Maybe there are new roles out there requiring a humorist or blogger, sports fan or public speaker. Heck, let me know if anyone has a job opening requiring you to eat pizza and watch the Tigers. My rates are very reasonable. Anchovies need not apply.
Another job teaching journalism has fallen through, but journalism has sort of fallen through too. I have every confidence that something new and cool, bright and shiny will pop up ahead of me. Just as I have every confidence that my daughter will thrive in school.
Both of us are learning new roles and on new adventures. Hopefully we’ll both have the right books, pens and highlighters in place. I’ll do my best to pay attention in class. No late night partying for me. And speaking of that …
Here’s one final thought: I have no other place to put this, but it’s too important to ignore. I’ve been wondering for the last little while what crazy, nutty residency/housing board in the 1960s came up with my daughter’s dorm name?