It is amazing how much can change in one year. The contrast between this week and that of last year is so drastic; not quite black versus white but certainly white against a dark, heather gray.
Last year we were feverishly getting Justin ready for his freshman year at college. Boxes, crates, and duffel bags crowded our dining room for weeks before the morning we left Raleigh and dropped our first-born baby an hour and a half away from home. The first time our child was on his own. Nervousness, stress, and anxiety was pretty thick back then. We just wanted everything to go well and without a hitch. He made it through the entire year, unscathed, and with passing grades. We were all happy to have year one under our belts.
This year, by contrast, he's leaving in two days and we have not started to pack. He knows what to bring and what not to bring. Basically, last year we over-packed. This year we are taking the bare basics and if he happens to need something we can always bring it to him in September during Parents Weekend or sooner if it is urgent. We are all pretty mellow this time around and it is cool. We will miss Justin just as much, if not more. But, we know he's only a short drive away.
His first summer home after being on his own went pretty well too. He worked, hung out with his brother, and pretty much did what he wanted. I stayed out of his way for the most part and kept the nagging at a minimum. I'm proud for how much he's matured and conducted himself. Justin is a great kid but an even better young man.
Most of the change has taken place in our immediate neighborhood. When we arrived back home after dropping Justin off last year we received terrible news that our neighbor passed away. I can't believe she's been gone a year already! Her husband (in his eighties) lived on his own, alone in his 2000 square foot home up until a month ago. He had a fall and before we knew it a family member picked him up and moved him to Arizona or somewhere out west. I feel bad for him and pray that he's coping with his wife's one-year anniversary in heaven.
Our neighbors in the cul-de-sac finally sold their home after listing it on Halloween 2010. This was probably the worst time to list your home. I knew it was over-priced from the beginning. Every one should know that the only reason a house doesn't sell is the price. I believe they ended up reducing their price almost 10% from the original asking price last year. People just get unrealistic and create a personal attachment to their homes and basically think they are worth more than they really are. In the past month there has been another four listings sprouting in our neighborhood of 150 or so homes. This has been the most at one time that I've seen in years. The new neighbors moved in this week. We haven't met them yet.
The next life-changing moment will come next week when our youngest starts high school. I cannot stress enough how quickly time flies when you have kids. I realize now that there is no going back and there are no do-overs. If I can pass on one thing to the parents of young kids I would stress over and over that you MUST enjoy each and every day with your child. One day you will look back on the tantrums, sibling arguments, and boo boos and relish in the feeling of being needed by your child. They grow up way too fast.