And today is the day our firstborn leaves home.
We’re on the road to Podunk, Utah to take our daughter to college.
I’m sad, excited, nostalgic, freaked out, stressed out, sentimental, jealous, and broke.
Getting a kid ready for college is spendy, even if you shop at the DI and WalMart for housewares.
My personal favorite of our college readiness acquisitions is a plastic yellow smiley face spatula we scored at the DI for 50 cents. What better way to start a college day than flippin’ eggs sunny-side-up with a smiley face.
Who am I kidding?
As if she’s ever going to cook herself a hot breakfast during her college career. The only kitchen duty Mr. Smiley will probably ever do is lift chocolate chip cookies off a cookie sheet to be shoveled into the mouths of ravenous college guys who will magically appear as soon as the oven timer dings.
Everyone always says how fast the time flies by and, on one hand, that is very true. On the other hand, looking at that pic and thinking back on the eighteen years that have passed since then makes it seem like a lifetime ago.
We’ve both grown up so much.
When my daughter was born I was working full time as a designer and copywriter in an advertising agency. I loved my job. I had worked hard putting myself through college to get that job.
In my youth I worked many, many menial jobs that motivated me to get a college education so I could have a job that was fulfilling. I scooped ice cream at a local dairy until my forearm looked like a character in an Arnold Friberg painting. I cleaned ash trays and coffee mugs as a custodian for H&R Block. I hunched over a sewing machine for hours stitching assembly line seams in a factory that made athletic uniforms. I vacuumed viewing rooms in a funeral home. I set up and took down wedding decor under the direction of bridezillas and their momsters at a party rental place. I shelved books in a college library, and worked as an assistant for a college department advisor who left me notes to remind me to sharpen her pencils.
I’d earned this job of client meetings, power lunches, creative production, corporate perks and pats on the back.
Then I had a baby.
After my six weeks of maternity leave, I went back to work. At that time I was the breadwinner, putting my husband through graduate school, but I had every intention of going back to work anyway because I loved my job.
But it was different.
When my daughter was eighteen months old, and we really couldn’t afford it, I quit a job I loved to do a job that sometimes, I admit, I really hated.
It was hard.
It was lonely.
It was dirty.
It was worth it.
As I look at the amazing, beautiful, talented, accomplished young woman sleeping in the backseat next to a truckload of clothes and a smiley face spatula, I have no regrets.
Raising her raised me. Raised me above selfishness, vanity and worldliness.
“Thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength.” —Genesis 49:3
Thank you, Sweetheart, for being the hardest job I ever loved.