When our son went off to college a few years ago, I panicked in the parking lot. We said our goodbyes, I tried not to cry but failed, he put his giant man-child arms around me to comfort me…and then he walked one direction and we went the other. It reminded me of putting him on the bus the first time for kindergarten. We stood there at the bus stop and I thought, “This is CRAZY! You don’t put your baby on a behemoth of a yellow vehicle that doesn’t even have seatbelts with a driver you don’t even know…!” It took every ounce of strength in me not to march him right back home and then into the woods to begin a new hermit lifestyle.
But I digress. He survived not only the bus and elementary school, but middle school (which is no small thing), and high school, too. I was forced to admit I had every confidence he would do well in college.
But I—the mother—was still a tiny bit of a mess. I needed something to do for my sweet boy who was so far from home. On the ride home I remembered how my Mom wrote me a letter pretty much every single day of my freshman year of college. I wasn’t terribly homesick, and maybe this was why. Every day I went to the P.O. there was a breezy newsy missive from home.
I knew I would make a mess of such a practice. I’d be writing unbearable tomes of things I thought I should be setting down in ink for the boy. Unsolicited and unwanted advice, lengthy inservices on health and happiness, too nosy questions, not very brief lectures etc. So I decided to send (drum roll!) postcards. What fun! Postcards are super fun!
By the time we were home, I’d done a fair amount of retail therapy and ordered an an impressive collection of postcards covering many topics—art and jokes, books and the humanities (I didn’t want engineering school to ruin his Renaissance Man tendencies), superheroes and fun facts, science and Jane Austen….
I realized I could still abuse my mailing privileges with postcards though. If I wrote small enough, I could still…say too much. So I started writing haikus. I do not consider myself a poet, and these haikus would never be mistaken for stellar poetry. But they’re fun for me to scribble out—5 then 7 then 5 syllables in three lines. I wax poetic on the season, limit my unsolicited advice, lecture—I mean remind—him of things as needed, and generally just let him know that he is loved and missed…all in seventeen syllables a day.
Freshman year I managed most every day. I’m less regular now, but he still says he likes receiving them, so I still send them a few times a week. His kid sister noted recently that I’m going to have to refurbish my postcard supply for her. But I’m confident I’ll still be able to come up with 17 syllables a day when she goes off to school.