One week ago Chip and I drove Amelia to college. I was filled with concern, worry and hope. Concern not for her ability to manage the work and be successful but for her experience to be a fulfilling one. Worry not because she isn’t socially active and outgoing but for her to make good choices and be safe on a large campus. Most importantly, hope not that she wouldn’t find what she was looking for, but for the courage and strength to embrace and embark on a beginning.
Many of us moms (and dads) look at this time in our family’s life as an end. But is isn’t. Yes, it is the end of childhood and dependency but isn’t that what we hoped for? Didn’t we want to raise strong children? Don’t we wish for them to begin a life on a path they choose and hope they grow from the experiences and settle into a path of their own? Each year as our children progress in school, sports and their social lives, that beginning is brewing. It is building for the very moment when you hug them and kiss them goodbye in that dorm room. It is a culmination of every moment up until that point.
I waited a week after we dropped Amelia off to write this post. I wanted to see my range of thoughts and emotions with Amelia gone. I have learned a lot about myself this week. I learned I cannot walk by her room without stepping in, for what? I have no idea. My dinner planning is smaller minus one and the fridge will not have her treats stocked until November. I realized that the time really did race by these 18 years and I wished I spent less time on planes, trains and automobiles when she was young. I saw the end of my role as a mom/caretaker and what I hope is the beginning of my role as a mom/mentor/sounding board and one day a friend.
The child is gone and this week I met a young woman. Her voice on the phone this week has grown stronger, happier and more confident. I felt some of my control slipping away and I’m ok with it. I trust the values and ethics Chip and I instilled in her while she was here and I know they will hold true as she faces the world as an adult.
My friends ask me how I am doing with her gone. Well now you know. I cry a little and I smile a lot. What a great chair to sit in. God willing, I will be in that chair for many years to come and should that not be true, Amelia, I am here for you to guide you the best I can. I will kick you in the shorts when you need it and pick you up for a Starbucks and mani-pedi afterwards.
A young woman now faces the future with all that it offers. There is so much for her to explore and learn and you know what? I think the same holds true for us as parents. We are on this crazy train together.