My daughter loves every school, big and small, rural and urban. She is either very open-minded and optimistic – or completely indecisive. I can’t decide which. At 11pm, she climbs onto my bed. Despite a grueling day, her eyes are bright, excited. “Mom, maybe I shouldn’t say this. I know you’ll miss me, but I can’t wait to go to college. The classes sound amazing. I even like the word ‘Professor.’” I smile. She is picturing various iterations of what her life might be with each campus we visit, a young woman truly on the brink, with so much yet to come, so much yet to be decided. It makes me deeply happy. I know that sadness, emptiness will come, but it is incredibly gratifying to see her enthusiasm for the life that is about to unfold. For all the mistakes, I must have done something right.
Of course, ten minutes later comes the buzz-kill: She snaps out of her happy trance and turns to me with dramatic concern: “Your life is going to be pathetic when I’m gone. I mean, what are you going to do?” she asks. I can’t help but laugh – and be slightly annoyed. I am a single mother and I date, I go out with friends, I have a life, thank you very much. “Par-tay!” I reply. She looks at me as if I am an alien creature. I feel no need to confide a recent dream: I was holding a blonde infant (much like my daughter) but when I looked again she had morphed into a cat. I woke in a panic: Is this my future, turning into a cat lady??? “Par-tay!” I repeat, though I’m not quite sure who I’m trying hardest to convince. Still, I believe the future is wide-open for both of us.
Day 4: The future looks bright – except when it doesn’t