Darling Daughter told me there were those who expected me to “fall apart” next fall when she heads to college.
I was SHOCKED. Then a little concerned…
I did what I do when I want honesty. I rang up Aunt Kate.
Me: Am I going to fall apart when Daughter leaves for college?
Aunt Kate: I don’t know about falling apart. You’ll miss her…
Me: I’m sure I’ll miss her, but I think I’ll be excited for her, too.
Aunt Kate: Maybe if she went to school in California, or far away you’d have a hard time. But you’ve been through a lot of HARD things where you should have fallen apart, but you didn’t.
Me: Thank God! Here I was thinking Daughter going to school was a ‘good thing.’ A rite of passage. Something to be celebrated. I’ve been through a lot and all I could think was, please not another trauma!!!
My mother’s philosophy: If we parents do our job, we raise self-sufficient children who are ready (and capable) of moving out of our homes. Further, my mother felt that every child reaches an age where they are READY to do so. Where they get on their parent’s nerves and we get on theirs…
Darling Daughter is 18 and she has reached that age. We DO get on each others nerves in a way we never have before. Doesn’t bother me. I see that as a sign that she’s ready to be independent. To leave the nest.
She’s researched schools, applied, found scholarships. She’s done visits. Has solid grades and ACT test scores. I’ve done my job. She’s ready!! And excited to go to college.
I sure hope not!! Because I feel I’ve had my share of misery…
When I was 17, my mother was ill and soon after, diagnosed with cancer. (It was terminal.)My relationship with my mother was every bit as close as the relationships I share with my children. And she passed away before I turned 21.
I always felt lucky to have had an extraordinary mother for a short time–many people NEVER have that. I’m a glass is half full kind of person.
Yes. The loss was traumatic. But I moved on; finished college, got married, had children, kept living. That’s my way. I don’t tend to look backwards. In some ways, going through such a life changing event at a young age probably taught me about letting go, about moving on, living in the moment…and being grateful for the gifts each day brings.
Not too may years ago, I ended up divorced. And it created many bumps in the road for the children and I. (Some that I’m still struggling to overcome…) Yet I’m not bitter or angry. I try to look at the positives. I’ve gained compassion, learned lessons, experienced things I never would have, had I stayed married.
Daughter heading off to college is a HUGE change. I know that. And I certainly expect to have emotional moments in the process.
But I’ve dedicated the past 18 years to raising children.
I always put my heart and soul into that which means most to me; not with my words, but with the way I live each day. The choices I make. In my relationships with my children, in caring for my mother when she was ill, my marriage, in college, my job(s), in the priority I give to my family and friendships.
And so I think that when its time to move to the next phase of life, I transition easily. Because I know that I DID my best, GAVE my best. Despite any mistakes I’ve made, I’ve never been burdened with regrets. I’m usually ready to embrace what comes next.
I’m sure there will be moments that I miss Daughter.
But (Gasp…) I hope I’ll be busy doing my thing. Just as Daughter will surely be busy doing her thing.
A crazy notion. But I see the changes for all the opportunities and freedom I’ll have to pursue some of my interests. I’m enjoying every moment of having the children at home–but I’ve got big plans for myself, as well.
And there is much I’m looking forward to. So much to be excited about. I’m not looking at Daughter leaving for college as an ending–rather it is another new beginning. For BOTH of us!! For me as much as it is for her.
Maybe I’ve got it all wrong…
I guess we’ll find out next fall.