I was the mother (and by was, I mean, I still am) who marched her kids to the front yard for a first-day-of-school picture and then cried as I walked home from the school or drove home from the school or, now, while my kids drive away to the school themselves.
This past August, we had our last both-kids-in-the-picture picture, because Sara leaves for college this fall.
But here’s the thing. She’s already leaving. And I’m already grieving.
Technically, she’s been leaving me since the day she was born, something us mothers know deep down but pretend with everything in us isn’t our reality.
But more specifically, she’s been leaving the past six or so months, it seems. She has a boyfriend. (As do I.) And our men have ended up being cushions for us, preparing us to move away from each other a little at a time.
I think it starts with the reality that through my divorce, Sara and I became closer.
And then there’s the layer that she’s my firstborn.
And a daughter.
And that she’s so much like me (and yet, fortunately for her, so very much her own self).
And I’m it on the parenting front. She’s just got me right now. And I think I feel the weight of her leaving as if I were two parents in one.
And the man I brought her into the world with, well, we barely speak (not that I’d want that in anything other than theory at this point).
And then there’s simply: I enjoy being with her; she is a delight to me.
And she’s leaving. And I can feel it.
She and I have talked about it. How the next several months are going to be an up and down struggle for both of us. We both want her to take flight yet we both want her to stay young and in the nest. We can’t have it both ways.
In fact, we can’t have it one way at all. She is going. And soon. That is our actuality.
And my job, in the next five months until we pack up her car and send her on her way, is this:
To allow myself to be sad.
To let myself feel every feeling I’m feeling, even though it’ll be yucky and hard and messy.
To acknowledge that this is the biggest transition I will ever go through as a mother.
That though she will be back for visits, a line will be drawn in the sand on that day, and even if she comes back to live with us after college for a time, it will never be the same again.
To know that no one can really help me through this, that this is my solo journey.
To hold her loosely every day between now and then.
To remember to hug her more.
To speak gently to her.
To show her and myself patience and grace.
To know upfront that she and I are both going to mess this up and hurt each other between now and then.
To try to remember that Jesus has her.
To try to remember that she’s going to be okay.
And to try to remember that so will I.
I’m not sure my heart is ready for this. And I’m not quite sure I’ll ever fully recover. Such is life.
My husband’s daughter is leaving in August, as well. I sense his ache and grief – this helps me support him and allow him space to process. I know it will be challenging when my own take flight, but for now it is something that I only get to watch. It sounds like you are caring for yourself well and that you have a good plan in place.
I understand how you feel. I felt all of these emotions 4 years ago, when my first daughter left to go 6 hours away to college. Now she is graduating and my youngest daughter is leaving in August to go to college. At the same time, I am going to be going through a divorce. So many life changes, so many emotions to feel. So much pain and loss to experience. I’m sad but excited about the new journey God is taking me on. I’ve spent 25 years tending and taking care of others. I’m looking forward to taking care of myself. Hang in there. The day I realized how much my daughter had grown into this amazing young women was a blessing. It is was God intended us to do. Your relationship will change, but it will change in a glorious way as she becomes a women.
In the same exact place with my boys….feeling this post keenly! ((hugs)))
Feeling the same way with my son. On our last spring break trip together and it’s bittersweet. I know God’s plan for our job as parents is to work ourselves out if a job. It’s a job I don’t want to end yet know it’s God’s plan. My son leaves the week after graduation for a 6 week mission trip overseas. I’m grieving and celebrating his good choices already. He will come back for a month before college starts. Never dreamed I’d be doing this alone but thankful for so many good times with him–especially the past 2 years!!
So have felt this with two of my three…..it is difficult, but I found myself so excited for them and their adventures in college and the new chapter they would be starting…and yes, as stated above your relationship with still be strong, but different, but very, very good.
One thing I did with each of them as they left each year for school….I went with them to help them get all there stuff there, unpack and I made their beds for them…..that was my gift to them and myself….I guess kind of seeing them off and “preparing” them one last time 🙂
Oh Elisabeth, my heart aches for you. I know the feelings all too well. When my firstborn daughter left to go into the army (which was a whole issue in itself) I bought a puppy I could not afford. And I still had 5 kids at home at the time.
You’ll be in my prayers. I am glad you have Tall Shadow in your life to temper the pain. It IS a good thing for her to leave, but I know it sure does not feel like it! My 2nd born daughter is leaving soon. She and I have been through SO much together, many deep valleys, but praise to God she is doing great now. I am so proud of who she’s become.
Like you said,
Jesus has got her. And every one of our children. God bless you!!