My oldest child graduated from high school in June. A big milestone moment for a parent, right? She was accepted to her first choice college, and we were all so happy and everything was just fine.
And then this summer she worked to save money, and we talked about the things she would need for school. We bought new bedding for her dorm. And it was exciting and I was fine.
We bought storage drawers and a mini fridge. We ordered her textbooks online and shipped them to her dorm address. And still, I was fine.
Then yesterday we packed everything into the car, and set off for school. We moved her into a clean, bright, dorm. We had a lovely dinner with her new roommate, and it all should have been fine.
But when I hugged my daughter good-bye and watched her walk down that city street, away from us, her family, her protectors, it was like watching her walk straight out of her childhood. And into the unknown. And suddenly, I was not fine. So now, I’ll write.
It’s like I’ve been hit with the emotional equivalent of a hurricane. I mean, I figured I’d be sad when she left. You can’t spend every single day of 18 years with someone and then not miss them when they move away. Even if your kid is a pain in the ass. Which mine isn’t, by the way, which maybe makes it harder.
And I knew I would feel worry. Because up until now I pretty much knew where my child was at all times. I knew what time she went to bed, what time she woke up, and what she ate for breakfast. Now, overnight, she’s living in a big city and I don’t know when she came home, or if she remembered to bring a jacket. The only word I can think of to describe all of this not-knowing is…unsettling.
Along with the worry, strangely, is guilt. Second-guessing everything I ever did as a parent. Did I adequately prepare her for the “real” world? Did I scare her too much or not enough? Will she really keep the pepper spray in her backpack? Why didn’t I make her take a self-defense class? Does she even know how to mail a package?
Anger. I didn’t expect to feel anger. Yes, I am pissed off at the world right now for not preparing me for this. How many pieces of unsolicited advice do we get in our years of parenting? At every other milestone I felt inundated with information and opinions. People talk endlessly about how hard it is having a newborn, the toddler tantrums, picky eater preschoolers. The middle school years…mean girls, bullying. High school…peer pressure, drugs, academic stress. And so on. I mean, you can’t get people to SHUT UP about that stuff.
But when you mention your child is leaving for college, the response has been invariably, “Oh, how exciting!” Well, now that it’s happened I’m like, “Wait a minute! Why did NOBODY tell me, I mean REALLY tell me, that, THIS, THIS is the milestone that is the absolute HARDEST parenting time of all?” Not one single person said, “I’m so sorry, that’s totally going to suck for you.”
And of COURSE I am happy for her. And of COURSE I am excited for her. And no, I wouldn’t rather her stay home forever. But none of that mitigates the fact that for me, the mom, it does totally suck right now. So I am telling you now, young parents, because no one actually told me. It sucks. You’re welcome.
People say, “Oh, you’re lucky that her school is close to home,” which until yesterday, gave me some comfort. But I quickly realized that it doesn’t matter much if she’s not in her bedroom and she’s two hours away or she’s not in her bedroom and she’s ten hours away. Either way, she’s not in her bedroom. Either way, the house is too quiet.
I keep having this vision in my head of my little girl walking away, towards her building, and in this vision I’m fighting back tears and yelling, “WAIT! Turn around! Please, I’m not done yet. I need more time…just a little more time!”
But my time is up and all I can do is hope that I used it well.
And though my heart is heavy and my emotions are muddled, my head is clear, and I do know the truth of the matter. I may need just a little more time…but she doesn’t. She’s strong and she’s smart and she’s beautiful and she’s ready.
She’s all yours, world. Please treat her kindly.
(via I Might Be Funny)
found @ 1725 likes ON 2018-08-15 17:33:00 BY ME.ME