Why colleges should medicate parents
Friday night I stayed up until 2 packing for Tommy. The rest of the night I stared at the clock. Saturday morning was a blur of car loading and trying to get out the door. I busied myself with paperwork the entire drive to LMU. As the car entered the campus, Tommy whispered, “I have butterflies in my stomach.” As long as I live, I will never cease to be proud of Tommy when he identifies his emotions. The amount of work it took for him to be able to do so is indescribable to NT parents.
We stumbled into the student center and the LMU students snatched Tommy and put him on the assembly line that is freshman check-in day. I leaned back into a wall so hard I probably left a large booty sized dent. I watched Tommy signing papers, getting his room key and talking with the other students. The room was ice cold and I felt a familiar but distant panic and fear. It was the exact same feeling that I had 18 years earlier as I checked into the hospital to force the overdue Tommy to make his entrance into the world. After a long labor and an epidural that left me completely numb below the chest for HOURS after delivery, Tommy emerged and his Apgar scores blew chunks. Instead of being in my arms, he was surrounded by a growing Army of NICU nurses who rushed him out of the room 5 minutes after he born. Fifteen minutes after Tommy was born, I sat alone in my room and said out loud to nobody, “I just had a baby.” A stared at the door, the phone and the clock over and over again. Waiting. After 30 minutes, I told myself my baby had died. I wept and tried to will my heart to stop beating. I just wanted it to stop. An hour after delivery I was shown a picture of my baby that did not make me feel better and told that he had a pneumothorax. Many hours later, I was wheeled to NICU to see my son. I went back to my room and cried more. The nurses said it was just hormones and told me I would get over it. The next day I was discharged and my crying continued. The doctor said, “this too shall pass” and walked away. I lived on the couch outside the NICU for a week. When I finally left the hospital with my son, I felt like I had a bullet lodged in my heart that I would carry forever. Leaving my child at school and driving away on Saturday afternoon, that bullet shifted and the pain was immense. The daily daggers from the rest of my life were unbearable.
Tommy called and texted all night. My phone no longer sits on my desk. It is clutched in my hands day and night. “Make sure my snake gets a swim tonight.” “I walked to the grocery store.” “The showers are cold.” “I’m going to play paintball now.”
I could enroll 15-year-old Sarah in college right now and have no fears. She would adapt instantly to dorms, make friends and be a straight A student. Now. She already has the maturity and the ability. She will pack up her belongings, drive herself to college and move herself in without any help wanted or needed from us. I will miss her horribly, but I won’t have the anxiety that I have now. Noah? Noah will probably skip college and be a freegan beach bum. Amy is going to be enrolled in military school before adolescence to learn to control that nasty little temper of hers. Evan is still my baby. Don’t talk to me about 3 not being a baby. I can’t hear you with my fingers in my ears. La-la-la-la-la.