Last weekend, I did one of the hardest things I've had to do in my 46 years on this earth. Harder than finishing an Ironman, harder than finishing a 100 mile training ride, and harder than completing the last leg of a 13 hour adventure race. It was mentally tougher than getting out of bed on a rain soaked Thursday morning in order to get to the pool for a 3000 yard swim. It was more heart wrenching than anything I've witnessed or experienced in life. And with the all the highs of my life, there also have been many lows. So, what did I do? What did I experience?
I dropped my oldest daughter off at college.
My wife and I drove 700 miles on Thursday morning to South Bend, Indiana to deliver our oldest to the University of Notre Dame. It was with mixed feelings that our first child was moving into the next stage of her life. The "growth stage" when she will transition from a young, 18 year old high school graduate to a mature, when she's done, 21 year old, mature young woman. It's the first step towards leaving the nest forever and starting a life that will be called her own. As a parent, it was hard to let her go and do this necessary step in her life. But deep down we knew we had to. There is no choice but to let her go and blossom.
We moved her in on Friday, putting together furniture from Ikea, setting the room up and negotiating with her roommate on where the refridgerator should go. On Saturday we were back and forth to Target so many times, we would have won their frequent visitor award, if there was such a thing. Then on Sunday, my wife and I awoke and were noticeably quieter than in the past few days. We dressed, packed, checked out of the hotel and met our daughter at her dorm. We strolled around campus for awhile and then headed over to the Joyce Center for a Mass for all incoming freshmen and their families. When the Mass was over, it was time. We went back to her dorm and prepared ourselves for our ride back to New Jersey. And our final fairwell.
All I can say it was the hardest thing I've done so far as a parent. I won't say who cried (for fear of embarrassing myself). But I will say it was a very tough and long ride home. I felt like I had left part of my heart back in Indiana. And in many ways I did but it was a part that was ready to move forward, grow, mature and be the person she was meant to be.
All in the caring, loving family that is Notre Dame and for which we are very comfortble with in watching over our daughter.