Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Parents Depart?!

It all happened innocently enough. We were back home from our trip to register for classes at college. I was still giddy from being told by my wonderful daughter that she was glad we had the relationship that we did; high on knowing that we like each other outside of the whole mother-daughter thing.

In an effort to be helpful, I was perusing the college website, looking for recommendations on the best lap top, what she would need in the dorm, meal plans, etc. All those things that parents want to know so they will be sure their babies aren't lacking anything that will make college life easier. It's a pretty website, with bright colors and lots of pictures. And there I was just leisurely looking around. Not expecting to be broadsided!

"Well, while I'm looking," I thought, "I might as well go look at this "Prologue" thing and see what move in day will be like." You know.To find out things like what time we had to be there, where we were supposed to go, would we have help with the heavy stuff. Those kinds of things that you need to know to make it a smooooothh experience. "Oh look," I said to myself. "There is a whole schedule of the days goings-on. How cool! I think I'll check that out."

And that's where those hateful words were hidden in seemingly innocent text. They were in bold faced type and they practically screamed from their place on the page. "Parents Depart." Or as I read it, "Go away. You are no longer needed." Right after the "New Students Welcome Celebration" we are expected to just casually go away and leave her there. Without us. All alone in the big bad, world!

"Parents Depart," just words on a page to them. Words meant only to move the day along from one event to the other. They didn't know! When we leave that day, life as we know it will change forever! For over eighteen years, it's been the three of us. Of course, there have been other changes in our lives during that time, but it's always been the three of us facing those changes; together - under one roof! We've had our individual interests and friends and times away. But those were all transient things and we knew that when we were finished with those, we would all come together at home and be "the three of us' again.

That will all change now. There used to be such a feeling of "rightness" when she, he, I, and both cats and the dog settled in at bedtime. I knew where everyone was and that they all were safe. Hard times might come in the morning, but for that little while, all was as it should be. How can I live with a change this profound?!

But how could I hold her back? This is what life is all about. A very wise woman I know always says that you give your children wings and that you have to let them go. And she is right. "Parents Depart" so that their child can become independent and strong, using those wings to reach amazing new heights. Secure in the knowledge that she will always have a safe place to land at home.

So I will leave her there, this child that I have loved with all my heart since the day she was born. I will depart, so that she may start on the next chapter of her life's book. And in doing so, I will start on the next chapter of mine. The chapter all about the empty nest and how it, too, can be a good place to live.


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