Monday, August 30, 2010

Letting go

If I don’t talk about it—or allow my mind to drift off into its grip—my resolve does not  betray me. My heart tightens as I watch her sort through new purchases for her future dorm life. I don’t cave for her sake, I think. Instead, I reflect her vibrant, orange bedroom walls back to her while she displays her groupings of independence and adventure. I’ve decided to take ALL my scarves and all my belts instead of more clothes.  I can change the look of the same outfit just with a different belt or scarf, she reasons aloud to me. I sit by my daughter on her bed and marvel at her choices…in fashion (definitely NOT from me or her dad) and resourcefulness (ahhh, something has rubbed off). I head downstairs making room for more crucial decisions about which shoes and purses warrant precious packing space.

Her imminent departure ushers in a wheelbarrow full of reflection. Did my mother choke back emotion when I headed off to college? Don’t know because she left home several years before me. 
Hmmm…is that grieving or resentment? And while I’m mucking through those kinds of memories, the guilt-o-meter spikes when I drift back to my early parenting days. Our two sons arrived three years apart notching up my personal assignment, Perfect-Parent Project. One son was dutifully compliant and the other openly rebellious. I admit to missing many moments of joy and thankfulness when Compliant disagreed and Rebellious activated natural consequences. Even when number three—enthusiastic, packing daughter—was born 10 years later, I was still having to give myself permission to simply enjoy our three children entrusted to us.

I hear my daughter talking to her father upstairs, 
I think our vehicle will fit what I’m taking; I’m just hoping my dorm room will fit it too. Hey Mom, come see how much I’ve packed now. I feel the weight of parental guilt lighten as my daughter calls for me, the Trying-to-Measure-Up one.

I offer the gift of a pedicure with me--my enlightened substitute for long-gone hand-holding while crossing the street. She squeezes me into her schedule before lunch with Chad, shopping for leggings, dinner with Emily and spending the night in Amy’s dorm room.
My house is going to be warm brown everywhere with some burnt mustard, and little punches of color, she remarks as she chooses a warm brown nail polish.

I’m going to miss her spontaneity, her person...terribly. The sadnesses collide as my eyes glisten up. Grandsons and their parents now 3000 miles away. Disappointments from my own childhood. The cumulative guilt of parenting mistakes. My father's advice about our kids' choices received as judgment. Our daughter going away to school in Canada.
Yes! I think my roommate likes me, my daughter beamed as she scrolled through Facebook. She wanted to invite me to her house this coming weekend before school started but knew I was signed up for the orientation for international students. I’m excited to get to meet her! (My daughter has explained to me that fun people use exclamation marks!)

I could feel the uneasiness growing from a deepening sinkhole, or maybe like my heart expanding, I'm not sure.

My daughter-in-law was the first to notice. I was telling her about a new vision I have for my Call to Grow program. 
I am surprised to even be considering something of this magnitude. I’m not usually one to think big, I confided.
Maybe you can think like this because your last one is leaving for her own adventure, as it should be. Maybe you're realizing that you might have think beyond motherhood, my wise daughter-in-law offered.
Who would have imagined that the sorrow of letting go could possibly give way to something hopeful? We deliver our daughter to school this week. I may need a hopeful reminder when we return home...without her.

1 comment:

Lori Life Coach said...


My heart ached for you while I read this. I felt like I was inside your head! So love to read your writing.Although I'm not sending anyone off to college (yet), I'm experiencing major transitions during this season of life, so I can relate to what you expressed. Thanks for blessing me with your reflections. Can't wait to hear more about your "next big thing!" Take care!