Off He Goes


Last night my son Dylan and I were up until almost midnight cramming a bike, a fridge, a pottery barn trunk, a toaster and fluffly comforter and pillows into my Toyota defying all rules of physics.

Earlier  we had family over for pizza to say goodbye to our newest college student.

This is our second son we send off to California. I’m  wondering, as so many parents are right about now, how we possible went from 0-18 in what seems like a nano second. I run the memories through my sentimental brain like an old movie. He was born on Easter with no issues. He got a grand slam in the 3rd grade. He successfully bid on a shih tzu at a Boys and Girls club auction. (We still have the 3 thousand dollar puppy despite a few close calls with cars.)  He and I spent hours commuting to tutors and theatre rehearsal. We dealt with homework and nasty teachers. We watched  his tennis matches. We were there for the high school fun, high school angst, and high school prom, Rewind, Rewind…he was born on Easter….

It’s not any easier than 4 years ago when we nudged his brother out of the nest. Did I think it would be?

Our home will surely wear a certain empty that only this sweet boy can fill. Dylan is the guy who gladly hangs out with his 9-year-old sister and screams at the TV with his Dad when the Dbacks get wronged with a bad call.

Is he sad? Probably not. Nervous? Probably a little. He is rooming with a great friend from high school. Another aspiring actor.

I write these thoughts down at a Starbucks not too far from his dorm. There are happy kids everywhere I look. Kids busting with optimism.

And I can picture him here. This is another milestone that time just won’t let us postpone. Just like the first day of kindergarten and the first sleep away camp, the drop off at the dorm is inevitable.

He will come back to visit of course, just as his older brother does frequently. And the relationship between parent and child evolves into something else.  Something more grown up.  But it’s that word “visit” that haunts the pit of my stomach. Today he stopped living with us. Today he starts living on his own. That’s what hurts.

Its been a privilege and  lets face it, sometimes a headache raising this little boy. But I could not be more proud of the person he is right now. That will need to be my comforting thought on the way home tonight.  I will also remember the faces of those happy kids on campus and imagine the happy face of my own child as I look at his empty room.




  1. Barbara Price says

    Loved this one Marlene.

  2. Sharon Harper says

    Oh how I remember this very day times five with the Harper children. Thanks for such a lovely writing, Marlene! Sharon

  3. How many years had gone since we left you in Tallahassee ? How many years since we left you with miss Florence? no matter how long I live I will always remember those days, me crying all the way home and you waving goodbye, time fly but for us mothers is like a movie with no end.
    Love you and thank you for sharing.

  4. Kim Lindsey says

    Oh Marlene! Teary over here! I can’t believe it either. I feel like we JUST talked about Cole leaving . . . Your boys are amazing, talented men! Job well done!! XO

  5. Scott McIntosh says

    Why you gotta make people tear up and stuff. Dylan is going to be great! He is going to love SBCC. I know I did. Let’s hope he goes to Santa Barbara Roasting Company instead of Starbucks. I can’t wait to hear about it all at Christmas.


  6. Jill Roberts says

    Hi Marlene,

    My son Michael just started there as well! My Elyse went to school with Cole and just graduated from DU. What a small world! Please email or FB message me. Would love to re-connect!

    Jill Roberts

    • marlenewoods says

      Hi Jill,
      I hope you are well. I totally remember you and Elyse. Cole is finishing up this year at Chapman University getting his film production degree. He started at SBCC as well. Where is your son living? It’s crazy that both of my boys are on their own. We have Ava who is turning 10 thank goodness and starting the 4th grade.

  7. Rosario Henni says

    So True! it doesn’t get easier. At least you have Ava! We are leaving Wednesday to drive up with Alex and move him in to his apartment in Virginia then we’ll be true empty-nesters. I think the part that gets me is what you said about the visits. Because from now on they’re not coming home to stay just to visit. Sigh… But I guess that’s what it’s all about. We couldn’t wait to do it and now it’s their turn.

    • marlenewoods says

      You are right. It is their turn. But I want it to be my turn again! Only this time I’d know so much more. Haha….

  8. Kathleen Bade says

    They say “it goes so fast”…raising these children. And yet, when we’re in baby bootcamp of sleepless nights and full diapers it seems like an eternity. Then lo and behold they’re walking talking, then walking away and talking back, then walking toward dreams and talking about their futures. You’re right Marlene, it’s a privilege and a pain…so well put.

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