Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Empty Nest



I left my son, Cooper at Chico State University on Tuesday, August 21, it is 210 miles away. I am a tough cookie, a hard-ass, weight lifting, big food eating, truck tire flipping, chalk dipping woman. And I was not prepared for the pain of this experience.

Cooper is our only child, and therefore has spent quite a bit of time with us. We were never the parents who did things and left their kid with a sitter - he never had a sitter! He was enjoying his first meal at Chez Panisse at the age of 6 weeks, he went everywhere with us.

We drove up to Chico in a rented SUV, we needed a bigger car for his belongings and I have to stretch out due to the hamstring and hip flexor issues I am having. We drove up the night before and went out to a wonderful dinner at the Red Tavern. Cooper thoroughly enjoyed his pork belly, I didn't have the heart to tell him that the dining commons in the dorms would not be serving that....but I think he knew.



We had conversations about things that were "unfinished business" from before. Like why I moved out of the house when I was only 17 and still in high school. He said he knew I had done that, but never knew why.


David loves his food and wine! And spending time with his two favorite people. Below is the stunning menu, if you ever go to Chico, definitely stop by the Red Tavern!



I had prawns wrapped in bacon! I told Cooper that I left not because I didn't get along with my mother, but because there were things I had to do, and there were rules. If you know me, you know that I have this belief that "rules" don't really apply to me, they never have. I feel they are "guidelines", but at the young age of 17, I didn't feel that, I felt they were an albatross around my neck.



I left home because I wanted freedom to do the things I HAD to do. I finished school, I was rebellious, not stupid. I found it was a lot harder than I thought it would be. The bills, the landlords, the rent, the shopping, connecting P.G. & E., telephone (no cell phones then), garbage, water...

I had chocolate soufflé for dessert. it was great!


I raised Cooper with all of my experiences in mind. I wanted to give him the freedom he craved, and the guidance he needed, I think David and I did a good job. We have a very good relationship with him, we all enjoy spending time together. 

I had my own breakfast at the hotel- chicken breast, sweet potato and green beans. 


Cooper had a roommate from his high school all arranged, it was great that it worked out as well as it did. But the pain, the pain...

I lived through handing him over to a team of doctors for emergency surgery when he was only 3 weeks old, when he lost so much weight he weighed only 4.5 pounds due to pyloric stenosis; luckily my doctor, the one I still see to this day was able to diagnose it and called the hospital and sent us right over.

Cooper and I spent four nights in the hospital. They didn't let me hold him because he was not allowed food, and he could smell the breast milk as I came close. I sat and slept on the chair by the bed, only leaving to go fill the hospital freezer with my milk.


Then he broke his arm snow boarding with friends. The call "Mom, morphine is great!" is not something you want to hear from your 12 year old!



Or when he suffered a compound fracture of his right index finger playing lacrosse only a year ago, he still has nerve damage and probably always will.

The girlfriend who dumped him after receiving the beautiful Tiffany necklace he painstakingly saved for and gave her for Christmas.



His wisdom teeth being pulled only this month! Neither one of us responds well to Vicodin, so he was on percocet for a week. 


The greatest pain is the feeling of needing and loving someone so much, yet they no longer need you.  

Oh, I know it is perfectly natural and healthy for him to leave, to grow up and go on his own, but I wasn't prepared for this, not at all. 

Below is his roommate, Andrew and his mother Mary.



And he didn't take much with him, his room is still full, it looks like he still lives there, but it's quite...very quiet. 


David on the left and Andrew's father, Dave on the right!


His lacrosse gear made the trip, he hopes to play for Chico, he's good.....I cannot wait to hear if he made the team soon.


He realized there wasn't much room, but Mary and I helped the boys unloft the beds to make it more comfortable, then "decorated" as much as they would allow us to.



Important stuff: Cup-noodle, sriracha sauce.


I made the bed and he said it would be the last time that happened! hmmm....he HAS to wash his sheets at some point I hope!


We all went out to a last lunch at the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. They always have a great steak salad on the menu, the boys all had steaks and fries.


My boys...looks like one is crying.


He let me give him one last big kiss on the cheek. I don't remember him getting so tall, I was on my tip toes!



In the car, on the long and very quiet drive home, I ate my meal. Shrimp, broccoli and green beans.


I sent this to him, I am friends with all of the Chico State organizations, so I can try to be involved a little. He said this sounded awesome. I saw the pictures the following day, looks like all the freshmen attended!


A "Taking your kid to college survival kit" from David's assistant principal. Red wine, Symphony chocolate, tissues, a big pen, stationary..


David and I have both wandered in and out of Cooper's room, looking and touching things we had thought were so important to him, yet he left them all behind. I just booked my room for the parents BBQ on October 6. Apparently there is a huge event in Chico that weekend, so the only place with a room left was what David and Cooper call the "Chico Crack Hotel", but  it's within walking distance, and I will only be sleeping there anyway, I will spend the morning in the gym- Chico Sport Club!

I have thrown myself into my training, seems I have nothing else in life that I need to do right now. It's going to be a long, difficult adjustment for me, I hope Cooper adjusts better.