When my son was little, we often said our good-byes through an exchange of “I love you more.” “No, I love YOU more.” These days my son is a handsome, talented but most importantly kind man who stands between high school and college in a challenging way. My son lives at home and attends a university two towns over. I am sure it is less and less uncommon but I see the special set of challenges presented to him. We are still navigating the freedom of choice parameters and I probably check on his homework progress more than he would like.
A soccer player all his life, he chose to attend this school in large part because of all the schools he considered attending, he really wanted to play for this coach. The fact that it is a great school and he received a wonderful financial aid package made any objections useless. However, in order to do this, the compromise was he would have to live at home. This saved $13,000.00 off a $40,000+ bill and with our oldest in her third year of school and my needing to change work situations, it was critical.
But this decision has presented an unexpected challenge. A day prior to classes starting, on the way to a pre-season meeting at the coach’s house, his car died. So not only is he living at home away from his friends, but now his mother or father is driving him to school everyday. With our work schedules, that sometimes means, he will be dropped off on campus at 7 even though his first class is not until 11. Some days his classes are over at 12 but he has to stay on campus until 4 because that is the only time available for pick-up. He won’t stay on campus at night because he doesn’t want to ask us to go out late and pick him up.
When he and I used to banter our “I love you mores” back and forth, they eventually evolved into “all the spaces in between”, short for “I love you all the bits and pieces and the moon and stars and all the spaces in between.” My son’s grace under pressure is one of the things I admire most about him on the soccer field and off. As he navigates this really tough life transition with the additional obstacles put in his way, I hope he knows that while we don’t say it anymore (seriously, I have to leave him some swagger!) that it is for me, at least, about all the spaces in between.