Last Saturday was move-in day at Crowder College. Although we only live about 45 minutes away, Sam wanted to live on campus and, as he put it, “Be a normal teenager.” He wasn’t prepared to go *full* normal and try dorm living, so he asked for an apartment. He applied for one roommate (again, not really wanting to be fully immersed in the experience) and got assigned three. He was disappointed, but I assured him that three was far better than the 17 he’d live with in a dorm. He agreed. We spent the summer gathering bits and pieces for his apartment, I stockpiled Easy Mac like it was nearing Apocalypse, and bought so much laundry soap the folks at Walgreen’s greeted me by name every time it was on sale. The week before move-in he lackadaisically and half-heartedly packed while I fretted and fussed over whether he had enough pairs of underwear to get through a week and whether he had a pizza cutter in the storage unit or should I just go buy another in case he didn’t.

Any time I’d think too long and hard about moving day, I’d feel tears prickle at the back of my eyes and have to blink them away while I’d go off on another tangent about underwear, band aids, and fabric softener. I dreaded move-in day much more than my yearly well-woman exam and mammogram.

We loaded to cars that morning, took our last group photo before we caravanned down the Mountain, and I talked incessantly about lighthearted things to Kady as we drove toward Missouri. Seeing the apartments as we rounded the corner made my heart kind of clutch up into a hard, painful knot. They had an amazing team of car unloaders and the process of getting things into the apartment was flawless and quick. We met his roommates (only two!) and one set of parents and I proceeded to be my usual socially awkward self and stammered and laughed inappropriately and loudly.

We realized we forgot the vacuum and microwave. We discovered he needed a shelving unit for the closet and actually had room for his bookcase. I sent a group to Walmart and a group back home. I called Mom to put her to task finding them a small dining table. Abby organized the kitchen cabinets, I organized his room. Wemberly enjoyed the spaciousness of a nearly empty apartment and babbled happily while she explored. I teared up a few times, but kept the actual crying at bay.

The apartment set up, we sent Abby and Dakota home so Abby could put her poor swollen feet up and and the rest of us had a late lunch. When we got back to the apartment to drop him off we pulled over out of the drive lane so we could say goodbye. A car pulled up behind us and refused to go around. I wanted to hug my son and say goodbye properly - and tearfully, of course- but instead their impatient honking led me to just hug him tightly, say a quick “I love you be good call me if you need anything day or night I MEAN IT wear your seatbelt study hard say your prayers wash your hands be a gentleman” and then snap a quick picture as he walked away. Paul dropped Kady and me off at my car, none of us saying a word. I got into my car and lost it. Lost my ever-loving mind, folks. When I finally composed myself enough to be able to look for a tissue I looked over at Kady who, tears streaming down her face, said, “I don’t like you very much right now. You made ME cry, Momma!”

He comes home tomorrow to see his little cousin show his bucket calf at the fair. I have more laundry soap and Easy Mac to send back with him. We plan to watch last week’s Game of Thrones. I also plan to hug his dadgum neck. A lot. I hear the second goodbye is easier. I’ll let you know.

Born a semi-diva and married to a redneck, through the magic of osmosis or just because of a serious lack of sophistication over the years, Kristin Hoover has found a balance of the two that makes her what she is today.