It seems like it happened overnight – we were just moving Tyler in to his freshman year dorm at Fordham University, and all of a sudden he is graduating. The old homage ‘time fly’s’ is certainly true – all parents realize this sooner than later. I have so many feelings about this big life event. Despite the reality that this happened during a national pandemic, this is truly a remarkable moment in our lives. I say ‘our’ because getting our son through four years of college was a family affair. His sisters, his grandparents, his aunts and uncles all played a critical role during his four years away.
When Tyler chose Fordham University, I was initially not on board with his decision. I was in the midst of the final weeks of my dad’s life, and my only focus was on spending as much time with him as possible. I did not have a lot of energy and support to lend my son while he was in his last months of high school, and making this big decision. 3 days before my dad passed, I had to leave my parents house on Long Island and spend the day with Tyler at Fordham for accepted student’s day. I was resentful and annoyed that I might miss something with my pop, and that Brian could NOT take the day off from work to attend this with Ty. I was so emotionally fragile and exhausted, that Tyler had to drive us in to the Bronx, I could not focus at all. When we parked and started to walk across campus toward the first event of the day, I noticed Tyler’s excitement and enthusiasm, and all of a sudden he was all grown up. I wasn’t holding his hand walking into Green Twig Nursery school, I was walking into the next big stage of his life, and that was overwhelming in itself.
In all my hesitation and uncertainty about Tyler attending Fordham, it didn’t take long for those fears and concerns to be put to rest. Tyler was SO happy at college, he was less than an hour from home, and that worked out the best for him. There was easy access to all the comforts of home, but he still had the thrill of being on his own for this first time. During this initial phase of getting used to our sons being away, my friends were mostly complaining that they weren’t hearing from their kids at all. Limited contact seemed to be the chief complaint in the “mom” circle. Not me though, my son called and texted me every day – so much so that sometimes I had nothing to say and no news to report. I didn’t take this for granted though, as I knew I was one of the lucky ones. Brian would come home from work and ask “did you hear from Tyler today?” and I’d say “Of course I did”! And that’s how it was, for most of his four years at college, we were always connected.
I would visit Tyler at school every few weeks, and he was home just as often on weekends. There was always an essential item of clothing he forgot at home, or his soccer cleats, toiletries or groceries that were needed RIGHT AWAY. It was easier for Mom to drive it all in, than for him to have to figure it out on his own. We usually had lunch on Artthur Avenue, and I’d still be home in time to get Riley from school. There was this simplicity of these visits, just me and Ty, and each time I saw him he was growing up more and more.
There were some SOS calls that stick in my mind when Tyler would find himself in a jam. I often think about boys who were a far distance away at school that didn’t have a direct line to a solution like my son did. If he was sick, off I went – medicine, soup, a new blanket. If they ran out of water? Coffee? He left his laundry at home? Mom to the rescue. Brian always argued with me, and told me to say NO to all these requests. I never could, and I never will. The fact that he still needed me made every mile I drove over the GWB worth it. Junior and Senior year he had his car at school, and the dynamics changed a little. More than a few times, I would be making dinner at home and Ty would call to check in. He would say “Omg mom that sounds so good I am starving!” when I would tell him what I was cooking. A few times 1/2 joking I would say “Come home for dinner!”… And yes, 45 minutes later I would hear the garage door open, and in he would walk. My always starving, loves a good meal, mini-Brian would saunter in, that million dollar smile on his face, to see his mama.
There was one weekend during finals that he wanted to come home and “study”, and I refused to let him. I said to him, “Ty, make use of the library, form study groups, hunker down and study at school. You will be too distracted at home”. This didn’t set right with him, and two hours later I found out he was on the LIRR taking the train two hours to my sisters house for the weekend. He just needed his people. I love that about him.
This past winter, I answered the phone one morning to the words “Mom, I am having an emergency!!!!”. No words any mother ever wants to hear, from their 22 year old out of breath, frantic son. I urged him to calm down and tell me what was wrong. “Mom, I have a HUGE bbq sauce stain on my friend Tom’s NY GIant’s jersey that I borrowed last night! You have to get it out!” Two hours later, guess who was home? He handed me a football jersey that had more bbq stains on it that you can imagine, and it took all my laundry stain fighting skills to get it clean. Four hours later, he was on his way back to school, freshly laundered stain free jersey, a load of clean towels, and a car full of groceries. It was almost like he needed a ‘fix’ of home. This was my son, and I will always look back and smile when I remember these times.
The Fordham University Class of 2020 is being called the “visionary” class. On March 9th, classes were temporarily suspended due to the COVID 19 pandemic that was just hitting the tri-state area. Students were sent home, and campus was closed. The following week, all remaining classes were moved to online and virtual studies for the remainder of the semester. The SENIOR class was stunned. Those last precious weeks together were taken away, and hundreds of memories would not be made. As they canceled event after event, it became clear that a traditional commencement would be out of the question. There is no way to make up for this, even a possible postponement until late fall doesn’t compare to the May ceremony. As a parent, your heart breaks for your child, and for yourself. It is no easy feat to put a child through four years of private college, and we needed to see him walk in his cap and gown as evidence of our hard work too. These kids won’t ever forget this time, although after spending all these weeks in quarantine with us, Tyler just might want too. He has been a great sport, and we celebrated the best we could, but there is that internal ache of all that was lost.
Time has certainly flown, and here we are, with our first college graduate. I have never worried about Tyler- he somehow just has it together, and I’m sure he will do great things. I wish all the Fordham University Class of 2020 students the best of luck in their endeavors, and I congratulate my not so little boy on this hard earned achievement.
#Stoptheclock has never rang so true.