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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Great Expectations (not about the book) (08/25/11)

TITLE: Feed the Turtles
By Laury Hubrich


I’m not sure what I expected. It loomed in our future for years. I’d anticipated it; almost looked forward to it, but now that it actually stared me in the face…ugh. I was an absolute mess.

I pulled out the suitcases, ready to pack my son’s clothes for his first semester’s stay in college. He had them chosen and waiting in piles. He could have done it, but this was my thing. I wanted, no, that’s not the right word…I needed to do this for him. Those last moments with my son were for me.

I packed up the boy and helped him think of anything else he might need and then stuck around until I couldn’t hold in the tears any longer. I warned him they were coming and made a hasty retreat. It was to be an early morning.

I slipped into the bedroom to the sound of unworried snores. Men. He’s the dad. Didn’t he understand the significance of this moment in time? Our last born was soon to be fleeing from the nest. Why didn’t he stay up and fret with me? What if the boy doesn’t wake up in time for 8 AM classes? What if he doesn’t go to church? What if he doesn’t study and make A’s like he did in high school? There are way too many what ifs. How can the father of my child sleep at a time like this? But most of all, how could he sleep when he knew how much my heart hurt?

The next morning went as planned. The van packed with most of my son’s worldly belongings, I buckled myself safely inside – tissues in hand. The boy led the way in his little car. How appropriate was that?

Once there, he wasn’t mine anymore. We stayed awhile…not long. His friends were there. He was more than happy for us to go. In fact, he already had a plan. The girls would be homesick soon, and his shoulders, being broad, would come to good use. That was my boy. I smiled through eyes that longed to spill the tears being held inside.

One last hug…one last hug…one last hug. My husband pulled me out of the room and the boy smiled and gave a half nod. I knew he would be okay. I knew that all along. I wasn't so sure about me though. Would my mommy heart make it? It survived two other separations but this was the last. The very last…

Besides that…could our marriage survive? We thrived on baseball games and all types of boy stuff. What would my husband expect of me now that it was just us – he and I? Maybe this thing called the empty nest had me more scared than anything else.

After only a few weeks now, I’m already to the point when asked about our college son, where I answer back, “What boy? We have a boy?” Out of sight, out of mind.’ I never would have believed that saying, but it’s true. We‘re busy with our lives, and he with his. Trust me, he knows our number and uses it frequently when dollar signs grow dim.

And about our marriage…the whole empty nest thing…college kids, contrary to what they believe, do still live at home. Dorms are closed on holidays and summers, so maybe my husband and I need to enjoy the peace and quiet we’ve been gifted until then. After all, we’ll just be getting a good grip on all of this and then wham! Thanksgiving and Christmas…

I figured out that the boy is only a text away. “Luvu.” I wrote. Soon I heard a chirp. “Luvu2. Feed the turtles.”

“I sent – how about that polysci quiz?” “B.” I said, “That’s ok. Study harder next time.” He sent, “K.”

Cell phone text plans are worth every dime we pay! No, this is not a paid advertisement for AT&T.

I still have my moments. I see boys in their baseball uniforms and I have to turn and run. When I get lazy and pile clothes on top of the dryer, I can’t blame anyone but me and that brings out the sad. When I remember to climb the stairs to feed the turtles, I’ll roam about the boy’s room and melancholy settles over me…not because I miss him necessarily, but because somewhere along the way, he stopped being my little boy and I stopped being his mommy.

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Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 09/03/11
Awww, sweetly told...Any mom can relate to this story, even those who don't have children. An empty house is a transition irrespective of the reason. I enjoyed it, God Bless~
Linda Goergen09/06/11
Oh yes…I remember all those feelings when my son left for college and then again when he married…but we survive. This was so well written and evoked so many memories and emotions in me! Good job!
marcella franseen09/06/11
I have two boys, 8yrs and 5yrs. I also have a little girl, 3yrs. Everyone tells me how fast it goes by. I know I'll blink my eyes and be right where you are, ushering my last off to college. I fear it, and yet, that's what life is supposed to do, move forward. I enjoyed your story. Reading about your survival makes me more hopeful about mine. :)
Lollie Hofer09/06/11
You did a good job of capturing the mom's emotions in letting go of her boy. Her reaction to her sleeping husband and his indifference was great.
Carol Penhorwood 09/13/11
Can definitely relate to this one..."one last hug...one last hug...one last hug". Says so much, uniquely. But we never stop being "mommy"!
Jan Ackerson 09/26/11
Laury, I'm going to feature this on the Front Page Showcase for the week of October 17. Look for it on the FaithWriters home page--and congratulations!