You see, for the past six months, I have been trying to work through the emotional minefield that all parents have to navigate - adjust to their child leaving home. In less than six months, my eldest no-longer-a-child-taller-and-smarter-than-me-daughter will be heading off to spend her first university semester in Dublin. On one hand, I am UBER excited for her. And yet, the mama-bear in me worries about all the potential lurking dangers. Let me fill you in..
A few months ago, I hit a 'eureka' moment. “Aha! Wouldn’t it be a great idea if Faith went traveling before she started university? After many conversations, she decided she wanted to travel to Australia via Singapore - skiing as well as spending time with her friends and her godmother. And then of course her favorite uncle invited her to go on a road trip complete with ‘ice driving’ in New Zealand! On the surface, it all seemed fine. After all, at each point, she would be staying with my best girlfriends. But as the day got closer for me to confirm the trip, I found myself waking up in cold sweats. “What if she hurt herself on the slopes..” “ice driving.. is that a good idea..” and “what if someone kidnaps her?” Yup. Crazy. But I kept it to myself for fear of being thrown into the loony bin. Fast forward a couple of weeks later, due to a timing problem caused by the requirements of her choice of university, the trip to Oz was scrapped. Instead, the money would be put towards a ‘travel’ fund for her to explore Europe during her four months in Dublin. PWHEW! That gives me a few more months to build the courage to see her off.
But then, she came home the other day and excitedly announced that Bar Taco, a local upscale fun restaurant was keen to hire her for the summer. My first response? Super proud she was being so motivated. And then, I woke up in YET another cold sweat. “She will be working somewhere where there will be inebriated customers…”, “the carpark near the restaurant is tucked around the back and not necessarily well lit… what if there was some 'crazy' lurking in the carpark?” SIGH. I think you are beginning to get a picture of the inner workings of my panicked mind. Anyway, as I work hard to calm my inner crazy, I have started emotionally preparing myself for when I won’t get to see her beautiful smile every day but instead have to wait for when we can go visit her - either in Dublin or when she settles in Boston. Luckily for me, she is super patient with me.
It is so difficult being a parent because on one hand, I am so so excited for her. But I find myself wondering about how often we will get to talk. Will she feel like I am suffocating her if I called or texted everyday? Or would that just not be a good idea as it may make her feel homesick? For the record, we currently text several times a day - normally because she is letting me know she got to school safe or was on her way home. And then I respond with some funny emoji or graphic to make her smile. Will that no longer be our operandi modus? So I timidly asked her on the weekend if she would mind if I texted her when she was no longer living at home. And then I privately wonder about all sorts of other things: for example, would she mind if I sent her surprise packages from time to time.
And so I take a deep breath. I know I will need to take a step back. I know I will have to draw on the collective wisdom of my friends who have older children and already passed this phase. And I know I have to stop worrying about all the “what if’s”. And then I remind myself. When I left home at 17, I didn’t have half the skills Faith has. That I will need to trust that all our talks through the years will hold her in good stead. And that I will just have to ‘loosen the apron strings’ just a little bit more in order to let her soar. To let go. So I pray for strength, guidance and courage - for us all.