So, it's over. Two utterly exhausting but really fun days getting Hayley settled into college. Hayley learned the joys of attempting to make a "loft" bed (struggling with a fitted sheet five feet off the ground is enough to drive a person crazy!), we found out how many things you can hang on a wall with just a pushpin, and we discovered that in the absence of a tape measure, one can use toilet paper (albeit a bit embarrassing to pull out at Fred Meyer when measuring shelves). All told, we got her settled into her dorm room in about three hours (give or take a few hours), met the roommates, met the roommates' parents, made a trip to Fred Meyer for all the stuff we forgot or needed, and finally settled down to a "free" lunch in the SURC. Of course, it wasn't "free", it's all rolled into that huge monstrosity called "the bill for college", but it was nice to not pull out the wallet for once.
We ventured into the student store and dropped $150 on sweatshirts and t-shirts for the whole family (Go Wildcats!), enjoyed another "free" barbeque dinner, and spent some time lounging around waiting for the evening presentation which included an address from the president and presentation from "The Dating Doctor", David Coleman. It was a VERY long day! After the evening event, we walked over to see the boyfriend's dorm, then made the long, long trek back to the car. Sad note: I lost my camera bag somewhere along the way, although my camera was around my neck, so THANK GOODNESS for that. I will have to replace a few things, but, hey, what's a couple hundred dollars compared to college tuition! HA! (not)
We left our eldest child to sleep in her dorm for the first time, and collapsed into our hotel bed where we slept in the next morning. Then, we met for a quiet lunch and headed back to drop her off at her residence hall. We said goodbye with little fanfare, a couple of pictures and........well, let's face it, my heart bursting with pride because I raised this amazing, adorable, incredible daughter who was making her way into the world with such confidence and ability. And just like that, the umbilical cord was severed. I did feel a gripping pain in my stomach as we drove away and a wave of emotion, so I guess it was symbolic. But mostly I felt happy and proud and like we were exactly where we should be after eighteen years together. I will miss her terribly, but I'm beyond excited for her to have this experience on her own.
And then I got a kitten.
Perhaps I should explain. I used to have two cats. They were lovely creatures, sometimes exasperating, but mostly enjoyable. We acquired them when my youngest was a baby, and my first worry was that they would smother him while he slept. They actually DID enjoy snuggling up to him, but he managed to keep breathing. And they were so tolerant of his toddlerhood when he would sprawl across them and fall asleep. They didn't scratch or bite when the kids carried them around by their necks. They purred and snuggled on my chest at night when I was laying in bed reading a book. But, sadly, when we moved to a new house, the cats started to venture outside and pretty soon they were missing for days at a time and, eventually, we didn't see them again. Coyotes, raccoons, who knows what got them, but they disappeared. And for a long time, we decided no more cats for us.
But then, you see, we have these three dogs. And dogs are just not cats. Not even close. Dogs are so messy, and loud, and smelly. Dogs lumber through the house and eat food off counters and tear open packages of snacks. Dogs are oafs and cats are dainty. So, after a while, we started thinking about how much we missed cats. Lovely, aloof creatures that can be left alone with just some food and water for a few days, as opposed to dogs who need to be let out every couple of hours and bark non-stop.
So, Hayley came up with the idea that she would get me a cat before she left for college so I wouldn't miss her as much (haha, as if a cat could help with that!). But Jeff gave a resounding "no" to that plan. He didn't want to clean up after it, feed it, or otherwise care for another four-legged creature (understandable, since the bulk of "dog duty" goes to him). I wasn't so sure about another cat. My previous cats were declawed (a practice apparently now banned), and my furniture remained intact. I worried about scratches, and box-training and whether the cat would be fun or nice - the exact opposite of a stray cat we once took in who ate the head off our 9-year-old goldfish (Hello? PAWS? We want to relinquish a cat!).
I arrived home this afternoon, weary and sleepy, and the first thing I was greeted with was two scheming girls showing me pictures of kittens on a cell phone and begging "PLEASE!". I told them if they could convince Jeff, they could have a kitten. And, somehow, he said yes. Or something along those lines. Or maybe they just told me he said yes and they told him I said yes and we've been duped. Either way, we decided to get the cat. So, we made a quick trip to the store for cat supplies and our "free" cat started out costing just under $100, and then we gave the family $20 for the kitty because they had already procured the first shots, flea treatment and de-worming. Free cats are so expensive!
Now, we have a kitten. And the empty space left by my child is now filled with a kitten. And you know, that tiny kitten doesn't even come CLOSE to filling a fraction of the space voided by my firstborn. And that kitty can't laugh with me, or come into my room late at night to say goodnight, or text me in the wee hours to let me know she's home. That kitten can't go shopping with me, or make cupcakes in my kitchen wearing a cute apron, or bring her boyfriend and friends over to fill my house with shenanigans. But maybe that kitty will cuddle on my chest, or purr in my arms, or just slink around the house in my shadow and keep me company. We named her Matilda. She's pretty cute. Not as cute as my college freshman. But still pretty cute.