Well, we are at the halfway point of the long goodbye. She finished her last first semester of high school. College applications have been sent, senior photos have been taken, spring break plans are being made, and the graduation date has been set. My daughter is full of hope and enthusiasm for her future – and she rubs it in constantly.
“This is my last Christmas living at home.”
“You’re going to miss me when I’m away.”
“Are you going to cry when you drop me off at college?”
(Secretly, I think she’s processing the big changes that are coming as well. But she’s way too cool to admit it.)
I have been thinking a lot lately about having a partially empty nest, (my son is a freshman) so I Googled it. Articles immediately popped up on The Mayo Clinic, Psychology Today, The New York Times, and even Oprah. So, I dug in, thinking I was going to get advice on how to cope and stay connected. And I did, but to my surprise, many of the articles also discussed all the positives. Spouses spending more time together, moms exploring new interests, and work stress decreasing. Apparently, I am gaining more time, money, and space with the departure of my daughter.
But that seems so harsh. Am I truly allowed to be okay with my first born living far away from me?
The reluctant answer is yes because she is gaining something too. My daughter leaving home was the inevitable conclusion of her conception 18 years ago. My job, as it follows, has been to prepare her (and myself) for this very moment. And I think we are as ready as we will ever be.
She’s going to miss my hugs, my food, my laundry machines and my financial aid. She’s going to realize that all those forms I filled out and emails I read now fall into her lap.
I am going to finally accept that she can actually manage her own life and correspondence just fine. I am going to miss her pulling up into the driveway, walking into the house, and shocking me with her stories about school and friends. And I am going to miss those hugs too.
All of these changes, while tough, will help us adjust to the fact that she is now an adult, and I have to let go. But despite her independence, I know she’s still going to hear my voice in her head, and I am still going to track her on Find My iPhone.
Despite the separation, I pledge to be more proud than sad, more friend than foe, and ready to accept both her new life and mine. We both get to grow – together.
Sending a child off into the world is a bittersweet milestone. Thank goodness for smartphones, social media, and the post office, which will help me keep those apron strings hanging on for dear life.