Off to College …

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pink hydrangeaSome parents sail through sending their children off to college, while others have a terribly difficult time letting go. I’ve been trying to figure this out…

Here’s what I’ve come up with:

Is it (perhaps) a bit easier for single parents?  I’m a single parent. And it has crossed my mind that divorce separates the family unit, long before a child leaves for college. Maybe the earlier loss of the marriage and family, and that grieving process makes sending a child to college easier. Meaning in-tact families haven’t yet been separated, so when they send a child to college, they feel they are missing something for the first time.

Another angle: As a single parent, the load gets heavy at times. Working, creating income stream(s) to support the children, nurturing them, driving them around, attending sporting events, plays, performances, cooking, cleaning and providing a comfortable home for them—it’s a LOT of work. There’s a reason children have two parents!! I’ve enjoyed (almost) every minute of raising Daughter. But sending her to college does take away some tasks. Lightens the load some…

Or maybe it has something to do with control. For some, it’s frightening that their children no longer need permission; they have freedom to do what they want to do, when they want to do it.

But it might go a little deeper than that. When we send our children to college, we never really know if they’re coming back. We have to trust that we have built a strong, solid relationship with our children; that they will want to continue to have a relationship with us after leaving home. But if they choose not to, we can’t make them. Plenty of kids go off to college, and end up spending their breaks with friends, girlfriends/boyfriends—anyplace but back home.

I believe that we don’t truly know what our children think of us, our decisions, how we did in raising them until they are out on their own. During their time under our roof, they’re too close to have perspective. The perspective comes with time and reflection. In other words, our report card comes later, sometimes years after our children leave home. We might think we did just fine—only to find out we didn’t do nearly as well as we thought. And that’s scary!!

Maybe its personality? I tend to be a happy person, to see the bright side of situations. So I’m excited for my daughter. I think having a child who is ready to go to college, who WANTS to go, is a great problem to have. I’m lucky to be in this situation. It’s a little quieter these days, but I’m finding ways to embrace and enjoy this time.

Maybe those with ‘glass is half empty’ personalities struggle more in adapting the their children leaving home? Tend to see the negatives, instead of the positives?

Regrets? Perhaps a child leaving home feels final, because coulda, woulda, shouldas creep in. In my case, I know I gave parenting Daughter my all. I made mistakes—and plenty of them. But I have no regrets. Maybe that makes letting go easier?  I’m not sure. But I do know that Daughter was ready to fly the nest—and that I was ready to let her go…

Would I feel that way if I left things unsaid or had regrets? I don’t know.

Recently posted online by a friend:

This may be quite politically incorrect, but tough; there is Nothing in this world more important than raising your children. Give them God to rely on, your time, your energy, your unconditional love, teach them right from wrong and follow through. Be strong enough to admit when you’re wrong and insistent when you’re right. Give them a bedtime, feed them well, and be there so they trust that they are a priority. Hug them all the time and put your phone away when they’re around. Your daily input ends too quickly but your daily teachings stay for a lifetime.

                                                                                          ~Diane Lauffenburger Schober

Pretty much sums up what parenting is about.

Anybody have ideas? Agree with me? Think I’m way off the mark?

Sending a child to college is new territory for me. I welcome your comments…

Darling Daughter’s Last Day of High School…and I’m not crying???

katie-meWhat’s wrong with me?

It’s Darling Daughter’s last day of high school. She’s done in a couple of hours.

And I’m not sad…

Prior to opening Facebook last night, I was excited for the long weekend, my weekend plans; including a day trip to Pennsylvania on Saturday and a family picnic on Monday.

Until I saw postings from parent’s on Facebook, I had no idea what time the kids were done with school. Still not sure of the time, but it’s soon. It got me thinking…

So I called Aunt Kate…

Me: What’s wrong with me?

(A loaded question, I know…)

Aunt Kate: There’s nothing wrong with you.

Me: Should I be sad, crying? Is there going to come a time when I’m a mess?

Aunt Kate: Probably not. I never got that way with Joey. (my cousin)

Me: Oh…good.

Aunt Kate: I think you’re more excited for her. I was the same with Joey. He had a great experience in high school. And I was excited for what came next for him.

And as I think about her theory, I think Aunt Kate is right.

Why I’m not feeling sad…

I think because she’s excited to go to college, to choose her dorm room decor, to leave the nest, I’m excited for her.

As for high school, she’s accomplished so much. She doesn’t have regrets. She played sports, joined clubs, took on leadership roles, performed in her schools show choir and was even in several school plays. She took many challenging honors/AP classes. Made friends. Had some fun.

Even did a bit of public speaking as National Honor Society President…

katie speakingAs a mom, I did my best. I’ve certainly enjoyed raising Darling Daughter, felt blessed to have her as my daughter.

There is some relief…

We ALL worry about our kids. But for me, there’s some extra, added worry tied to being a single parent. Statistically, children of single parents are far more likely to have issues; emotionally, with drugs and alcohol, teen pregnancy, poor performance in school and so much more. I’m breathing a little easier knowing that one of my children has successfully navigated the difficult high school years.

Of course, I’m smart enough to know that I’m exchanging one set of worries for another!!

There’s so much to look forward to…

Daughter will soon be a high school graduate.

She’s off to college in the fall. When I do speak to her, or see her, we’ll have more to talk about. She’ll (hopefully) graduate from college. Then will be career decisions, maybe she’ll decide to get married, or have children, or move to a new city, or buy her own home. There are many more milestones to come. So many more things to enjoy.

I don’t look at her high school graduation as the end of something, it’s another beginning.

Not just for her, but for me, too.

My life…

As the children get older, I get to think about me. It’s always been about everybody else. Being a single parent hasn’t been easy. It has had moments too difficult to share here, or even to find words for.

But there have also been triumphs. I’ve gotten to figure out what type of career I want, to meet new people, try new things. I’m starting to see the end of the ‘raising children‘ phase of my life. And in many ways, that’s exciting for me. It means I have the freedom to chase after my dreams.

And children like that. They love to know their parents are happy.

Mine seem happier, when they know I’m busy, that I’ve got things going on.

Sometimes I tease Darling Daughter with this…”Just think, when you come home from college you’ll get to meet the fella who’s going to be your new stepfather…”

As you can imagine, she rolls her eyes!

I guess we can either look backward, or forward. I’ve never been one to wallow in the past. I try my best to enjoy each day, appreciate my past and my memories–and then plunge forward.

I’m not thinking “Where has the time gone?”

I’m thinking, “What a ride!”

Anybody else have a graduating senior? Your thoughts?