It’s ok to start your life over without starting your life over.
That’s what I wrote in my journal after moving my oldest child in for her second year of college a little less than 24 hours ago.
I remember this time last year. The ball of anxiety, fear, sadness and excitement sitting in the pit of my stomach. The constant pang of tears literally welling up behind my eyes, threatening at any moment to spill over and never stop. But we did it. My husband and I moved her in, we hugged and kissed her and then watched her walk away from the car into her dorm. On the way home, we cried and talked and tried to figure out our lives without her in the house for the next school year.
I promise you I did my fair share of grieving the 6 months prior to her high school graduation. The child was never home! Between band, show choir, school, friends and work, I barely saw her. BUT, she was always in her bed at night. Every night.
I’m sure there is a book somewhere that prepares you on how to launch a child into college and life. I have no idea. I only have my own personal experience as a young adult and how my parents launched me into the world to go by. I felt a bit green when it came to raising adult children.
How in the world do I DO THIS? How do I parent long distance? What happens if or when she gets sick? And then it hit me. I have watched this same child walk away from me since the moment she learned to walk. She’s been weaning me ever since. From leaving her for her first day of pre-school, Kindergarten, and every “first” day of every grade. She waved goodbye and another milepost had been reached.
One particular day, during her 4th grade year, I had picked her up from school for a Dentist appointment. When we returned to school I signed her in and watched her walk down the hall. Right about the time I was ready to leave, she stopped and turned around and waved goodbye. Oh my heart. Oh my breaking heart.
I got in the car and sobbed. I sobbed because I knew this was one of many times I would be forced to let go. I’ve gotten the privilege to exercise that letting go many more times since then. School dances, field trips, overnight competitions on the weekends and week-long camps in the summer. Each time she was older and more mature and each time I was less of a concerned mom and more of a coaching mom. Don’t get me wrong, she is not completely out from under our wing, but I am learning to LET HER take responsibility for just about everything. And before you start to think that it has been easy, let me assure you. I was screaming on the inside!
I have journaled more pages than I can count. I have talked to my mother, my sister, and trusted friends for countless hours. I have listened to podcasts and read books. But mostly, I have prayed. I have prayed for emotional resilience, strength, wisdom, grace and unending love. I have prayed for her safety, for good decision making skills and for health. But mostly, I have prayed for her happiness, or joy rather. I pray that when she comes up against a dilemma, she will figure out the solution. That maturity comes from stepping up to the plate of responsibility and reaching out for help if needed. That rock solid relationships take time to develop and who she becomes in the process will blow her mind.
Watching her adventure unfold has been nothing less than exhilarating. Enough so that it caused me to look at my life and the adventure I was on. I realized that I could start my life over without starting over. I could, just like Emma, take responsibility for my life and make decisions to start a grand adventure of my own.
And I have. Just like that.
The weaning is not complete but I can look back and see the process started actually from the moment of her birth.
The moment our adventures began and started tracking in different directions.