The hardest part of sending a kid off to college was remembering how many plates to take down for supper.
For me, this isn't a simple math problem, 4-1=3. It's a deluge of feelings at every meal. For his whole life of 18 years, I've insisted that we sit together at the dining room table and share suppertime. Suppertime is what knits our family together. We share so much more than the space and the food. We discuss how our day has been, sharing our whereabouts and whatfors and how we felt about it. We share our school progress and work projects and what friends we might've encountered during our comings and goings.
It's been the one place that I can insure that our lives intersect in a positive and healthy way. The food was prepared with loving care, usually out of locally sourced, organic ingredients, but sometimes its pizza from the good spot up the street or thai takeout or mediocre chinese delivery. But the atmosphere of family and community is loving and open to discussion. We tried a on a few new traditions and rituals over the years, but the thing that really stuck was "Thanks for dinner, Mom."
None-the-less, it has been an integral part of our of MY routine since I pushed him out of my body and into the world. I've quit crying over it, for the most part. But it still takes a moment before I can take down just 3 plates.