August 29, 2022

Mini's packing process: last hurrahs, not enough neutrals, & emotions


The day after Mini's Target debacle I got a message from the dermatologist. We'd missed an appointment. I guess Mini isn't the only blond in the family. I was so bummed. 

It was Curly's appointment. I planned to take Mini instead - ask for suggestions for the scar on her leg delivered by the air bag in her car accident. It looks like someone smeared mud in a line down her leg. She's going to do a zoom appointment from her dorm room in a few weeks. 

I could NOT believe I'd forgotten. I was doing nothing important, unless you count talking a hysterical 18 year old through a wallet crisis at Target as important. 


Mini's packing was NOT going well. I noticed that she was excellent at stacking things in piles, but she wasn't great at moving past that to the next phase:  PUTTING THINGS IN BAGS OR BOXES. 


I was confused. Hadn't she already had a last hurrah sleep over with the besties? 

Well, yes she had. But now one of them was REALLY about to leave. *eyeroll* 

Disarray is how she rolls. 
There were things that needed to be done. The bedroom could not be left in disarray, right? Does she even know what a room without disarray looks like? 

I put my foot down. We were leaving on Friday. I made her caddy on Tuesday and Wednesday. She could take Thursday off. She didn't like my plan, but I couldn't watch her sit and move her piles from the dining room floor to the living room couch or other parallel moves any longer. This was not progress, it was simply pile-reconfiguration. I figured if she caddied, she'd have less time and with less time, she was going to have to buckle down and actually complete the packing task.


Tuesday evening, I told Mini that I'd join her in her room to help her pack. A moment after I entered her room, I ordered her to move the piles of clothes to my room. *More reconfiguration* I couldn't work in 'that space.' The light wasn't working. It was dark and cluttered, understatement. 

I stared in disbelief at the size of the piles of clothes that she planned to bring. EXPLAIN YOURSELF. There was a shirt in the pile that had been tossed out by her older brothers. If a male in our home recognizes that a shirt is no longer worth keeping , then by JOVE - it's TRASH. 

Mini:  But, it's really soft. 

Me:  It's not as if you're forced to wear a hair shirt or itchy wool. Your clothes are not scratchy and you don't have sensory issues. 

Then, in the ELEVENTH HOUR, she pointed out a hole in her wardrobe: NOT ENOUGH NEUTRALS. 

Just before we moved packing headquarters to my room, I overheard her summon Curly. She was trading Curly a pair of her running shorts for a pair of Curly's black shorts. 

Huh? I pointed out that the black shorts were Curly's size and didn't fit Mini great. Mini took offense to this, but the girls are 3.5 years apart in age and Curly is a smaller size. Tensions were high. 

So Mini owns tons of shorts and tons of shirts, but very few of them are neutrals. The rags match better with her mint, burgundy, and coral shorts. She didn't have enough black or white tops. 

A fraction of it.

I was blown away, but the evidence was right there on my bedroom floor. I like to shop. That's no secret. I had no idea that her wardrobe was lacking. It seemed she needed a few more things to make it unnecessary to dress in an older brother's garbage t-shirt. 

What does a mother do when she doesn't want to face the inevitable and she has guilt about not buying more neutrals (clearly neutrals weren't on sale as frequently)? She orders stuff from Amazon and store pick up items from Von Maur. I found the black shorts of Curly's in Mini's size at Old Navy and shipped those to her dorm. 

*It begs the question:  Did I have a horrible wardrobe growing up because free shipping wasn't a thing? Or was it simply that my mom was on a budget and she insisted I wear my older, shorter sisters' clothes? 

Wednesday evening, 36 hours from drop off, we headed to Von Maur because we had to pick up my order. How's that for handy? It was crunch time. We dragged a pouty Curly along. 

Little Ms. High School Freshman has become fixated on friend time and caddying was getting in the way. Not all freshman work, but ours has to. She doesn't caddy daily and she misses lots of caddy opportunities for sports, but if caddying interferes with stuff her friends have scheduled- watch out. 

*ASIDE:  the next day, Curly caddied early. I raced to pick her up and get her to the pool party that she feared she'd miss. She was barely even late. All was right in the world again.  

I made a cool whip and cream cheese
 pie for Mini's last night. All Curly had
 to do was create an ND
 out of fruit. I think it's an abstract creation,
 but it was tasty apparently. Not a GF crust.
I left the girls to try some things on while I ran to customer service to grab our order. When I came back, I could hear the girls laughing in their dressing room. It was like music to my ears. I just wanted to stand there and freeze time. 

Mini opted to keep a few of the Amazon things. Packing wasn't compete Thursday evening, but I asked her to come with me to return the Amazon rejects to Kohls and to go to Costco. I bought my folks a rotisserie chicken. Mini and I ran it over to them and she said good-bye.


I'm not sure who started. Maybe Mini said, I CAN'T BELEIVE I'M NOT GOING TO BE AT HOME. 


Mini whispered:  I'LL CALL MORE THAN THE BOYS DO. 

Not sure you can tell, but this is a HUGE
duffel bag from Lad's football days. I
 tossed this puppy in the car like a boss.

Then we went inside and got down to business loading her incredibly over-the-top wardrobe, now with neutrals, into huge duffel bags. I decided that I didn't want to wait till morning to load the car. I wanted to have a nice relaxing sleep before the big day. *foreshadowing* Lad and Coach figured out how to lower the seats and then went to bed. I loaded the car. 


Well, my friends, she's been gone a week and I just sobbed all over again as I wrote this. Wednesday is my 1,000th post. I have something special planned, so a short break from Mini's college drop off  - but my next post is chock full of Mini-isms. Get ready to leave a comment in celebration. While you're at it - go ahead and comment today to get warmed up. This teary mom could use a comment, or 30. Do you only buy neutrals? Did you become emotional dropping kids at college? Do you have a disarray-loving family member? Do you have experience with a scar from an air bag? 


S said...

Long time reader, few time poster. I’m a college student and when I got to that part of your post, I started sobbing too. I can tell you that Mini won’t forget the proud words you said to her — I still remember when my parents said something similar as they dropped me off at my dorm. Those words will probably stick with me forever.

mbmom11 said...

You are more patient than I would be - I'd have stuffed her colored clothes in boxes and left her to buy her neutrals on her own. And probably put half the stuff back in closets. Does she realize she have to move all that out again in the spring?
I'm not emotional dropping kids off at college - we've had practice moving kids in as some of our kids went to a residential high school. Of course, I didn't cry when I first dropped my kids off at daycare either. But I do ask for at least one skype call a week and an occasional text.
My daughters who had air bag collisions both got bruises and small cuts on their knees. It might have been the angle the air bag hit. Hopefully it'll go away soon.

Nicole MacPherson said...

I teared up reading this. I know how close you and Mini are and this must be so hard. You're right, it's going to be different from now on - but maybe good, different? It's a new era for sure but...oh, I don't know, I just got teary-eyed again. I CAN'T BE POSITIVE RIGHT NOW. I'm just sad for you, you must miss her so much.

Ernie said...

S - College student reading my blog and commenting for the first time? Day made. It is so hard to have her doing her thing somewhere that isn't HERE, but I know she will do great and meet wonderful friends and that is the goal, still. My heart. My folks dropped me off, set up my room, and drove away. My dad pumped his fist out the window and hollered THREE DOWN, TWO TO GO. Not exactly a touching, sentimental send-off.

Thanks for the comment. Hope to hear from you again sometime.

Ernie said...

mbmom - Maybe this all stems from my lousy wardrobe when I was growing up. Since I am an expert at finding good deals, it is my pleasure to purchase great finds and provide them to my offspring.

She will have to pack some of the summery things up and swap them for cold weather clothes when she is home for a week in October. See what I did there - I mentioned an upcoming WEEK when she will be home. Hooray!

Lad was unpleasant before college, which I now realize was probably his way of dealing with anxiety. Ed wasn't going to be too far from home, and he was good at keeping in touch - so I only shed a few tears. When I dropped off Tank, I was up to my eyeballs in the boys we were trying to adopt. It has just sort of occurred to me though, that they don't end up being home long term again. Sheesh. So hard.

Ernie said...

Nicole - Yes, there will be so many great things to come. Yes, I can focus on that and look forward to meeting her college friends and hearing about all of her experiences, etc. It will be exciting when she gets her first job and seeing where she ends up and what she decides to do. But all those exciting things will happen while she is continuing her independence and she will not be here, needing me, as much. It IS the goal, of course. I do hope to be the fun mother in law who gives distance, but good grief, now I'm really getting ahead of myself. I can't go there yet. ;O

Kara said...

Someone told me to buy a set of 4 or 6 IKEA bags, with zippers. They're huge. My daughter used three of them to move into college. One had towels and bed stuff, the other two had clothes.

Good luck! Have you reclaimed the room from disarray yet? It took us a good three weeks to get the room back in order after the kid left for school. Just finished it this weekend.

Jenny in WV said...

I've been having computer issues and haven't been able to comment, but I've been reading. I look forward to your posts every week.

I guess I only buy pants and shorts in neutrals. I don't have any bottoms in wild colors or patterns.

I don't have kids and I have no idea if my parents were sad when they dropped my off at college. I wasn't sad, I was excited! I think I did a good job of keeping in touch, I used up a 1000 minute phone card that first semester.

I have no experience with airbags, hopefully the dermatologist will have some helpful advice for Mini.

Pat Birnie said...

Oh Ernie I know how you feel. I drove my oldest child, only daughter to university 22 years ago and can still remember the day clearly and how hard it was. I cried all the way home. My two youngest boys both moved 3000 miles away 10 years was agonizing. I just had to remind myself that when you do a good job your little birds flee the nest and do amazing things in life. I still get a little sad each time a kid who lives far visits, then leaves. However this empty nester stage is pretty darn good too!

Beth Cotell said...

I teared up reading this too. I really miss my kids. And it's not because I'll never see them again, it's because it will never be the same. You hit the nail on the head. They will never be living here again...only in between the next thing they are heading to.

Big sigh...........

Busy Bee Suz said...

Well, thanks for making me cry too! As if I've not been crying enough?
You are such a good mom! I have neutrals primarily in my wardrobe with some pops of color or patterns here and there.

I, too, love those moments in time when you wish you could freeze-frame them. I'm here to tell you, there will be more of those. That won't stop, I promise.

My children are both messy, and it always pained me. Well, it still does, but at least the mess is at their house and not mine.

Yay for Curly having a social life!

Cheryl said...

Awwww....I don't even have kids and I am boo hooing!
I get why this was sad, it's something about it being your first girl to go. You are an expert with letting the boys go. After all, they pee on the seat in the bathroom, right? lol. Just kidding. Hopefully, it will get easier when Curly goes to college. Or maybe not. We'll just have to wait and see. Mini will be home soon for the holidays!

Gigi said...

Sending you hugs. I cried so many times before dropping Man-Child off at college. I think I cried just about every day of his senior year in high school. When we dropped him off, I cried most of the way home. It's so very hard but know that you have done a great job and she will fly. And she most likely WILL check in far more than the boys.

Ernie said...

Kara - We had no shortage of bags to pack her stuff in, it just took a little bit before she actually put it in the bags. ;)

I did not have a full load of sitting kids today, but the next 3 days will be a full house. Today I focused on the boys' room. Disaster. Basically, Tank is losing his security deposit. He will also be fined. Nonsense. I've been in there for hours and it looks better, but it is not close to being done. I've sent countless photos to Ed and Tank: DO YOU WANT THIS? WHOSE IS THIS? WHERE IS THE CORD FOR THIS? Good grief.

Curly straightened up her room since Mini left and it looks like a bedroom again. We'd forgotten that there was carpet in there.

Ernie said...

Jenny - No worries. Thanks for following along.

For her birthday a year or two ago, she wanted shorts. My mom bought her a bunch of athletic shorts that she really liked but they were unique colors. She definitely needed more neutral colors, but it would've been super nice if she'd mentioned that one of the 80 times I went to the mall in the past 6 months.

I was not sad at all when it was time to go to college. I needed to get out of my house and I was glad when I did.

Mini thinks she deserves the scar on her leg. I'm hoping they can figure something out.

Ernie said...

Pat - Ha, I will take your word on the empty nester stage. It seems so far away, but it will be here in the blink of an eye.

I cried on the way home. I cried the next day when I described to Ed how it went. He was floored that I was so emotional. I do think sending them out into the world is part of the arrangement, but it just hit me hard.

My kids signed a contract, they will not get married and move away. They can get married and stay near me. The end. *I'm kidding, but I can dream.

Ernie said...

Beth - Yep. I don't know if I didn't realize that with the boys - if it has just taken me a few years to realize the inevitable? But, bam - it hit me with Mini.

Ernie said...

Suz - I feel like 'I'M NOT CRYING, YOU'RE CRYING' applies here. Maybe that's from a movie. I hope all goes well with Lillie tomorrow. Thinking of you. Poor little Lillie. She must be so out of sorts.

I put off writing that post all day. I had no idea it would make me get all worked up al over again, but Coach came in the study to say good night and I was a puddle. "I'm just - (waving hand at computer) you know, writing about dropping her off." Hell, it was just the packing part. As with most of my stories, there's always more.

You will laugh at my next post. Promise.

I do think the messy tendencies is inherited from yours truly, but the mess that my kids leave around, that would never have been tolerated when I was growing up. My kids tend to do things bigger and better and the messiness is no exception.

Oh my, Curly and her social life. Well, I have a story about that too. Of course - different than in this post. A mom I babysit for told me recently I WILL DIE IF CURLY WHO HAS ALWAYS BEEN SO SWEET AND EASY GOING ENDS UP GIVING YOU A RUN FOR YOUR MONEY. ;)

Ernie said...

Cheryl - I never dreamt I'd be so emotional. And certainly not Mini. Yes, the boys leaving was a little different. Lad was unpleasant, at best, before he left. I drove him on our anniversary and I was relieved because he'd been so difficult. I feel bad now, because looking back I think he was anxious but not great at sharing his feelings. Ed and Tank were better behaved, and pretty tight with me, but I think the younger kids kept me busy. Or something. There's a reason I call her Mini here. She feels like an extension of me. Only better. An improved model. Sigh.

Oh, I think I will be clinging to Curly when she goes. My last? My baby? Stop it. How will I get out of bed in the morning. Well, cross that bridge when I must. I guess.

Mini will be home for a week in October. I just told Curly that and she was NOT happy. I was like HEY NOW. Curly doesn't want the room messed up. It's been a week and tonight she's sleeping in the bottom bunk. In Mini's bed. Wow.

Ernie said...

Gigi - I didn't shed a tear at graduation. I never cried all year - at least not over her being a senior. I feel all out of sorts. I am going to Notre Dame to tailgate Sept 10th and I cannot wait to see her. I cried a lot on the way home. And the next day. And anytime I tell people what it was like to say good bye. And then last night when I wrote the post. What a relief that she isn't far away.

Debbie said...

Yes. My child is 6 but I am already so painfully aware of every step away from me, and these milestones in particular, uff. Bittersweet just IS the flavour of parenthood. It's surely a strange job where you work toward your own redundancy. And that's success??

Give yourself time. There's lots to look forward to, but for now, nice treats and time.

Ernie said...

Debbie - Very well said. It has been such fun to have a girl who is aptly named 'Mini' on my blog. She keeps me laughing, and makes me want to pull my hair out at times. I'm busy getting back into the swing of babysitting this week with almost all of my families back, so very little time to whimper about it.

It did occur to me today that some of my favorite times with my mom were after I left for college. ;)

Ally Bean said...

Not the point of this post but when we were in college and packing our clothes to take to college everything was "an outfit." Like there were pants and blouses and shoes and jewelry that all went together. Packing was easy because you packed each outfit. I don't remember any neutrals, though. Maybe this approach to dressing was more about my mother's idea, than mine.

Ernie said...

Ally - That is an interesting thought. I remember having more 'outfits' when I left for college. I was no where near the norm though in the wardrobe department. I was so tall, I was just happy to find a pair of pants that fit me. Mini is the same now about pants - but she is 6 feet tall, so she really has a hard time. My mom's approach to dressing was to wear what my sisters were done with. They were inches to a full head shorter than me, so that wasn't ideal.