Watching your child go off and become an adult is breathtaking. It is also a very hard and sad time for a parent. I remember the end of last summer like it was yesterday. The focus was on my oldest daughter going off to college. She wouldn’t be far away, but I still felt sad and some separation anxiety that she wouldn’t be living at home anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I was also happy, proud, and excited, but the emotion that I was feeling the strongest was grief. I found myself overwhelmed by an incredible sense of melancholy.
I know that this is what is supposed to happen, giving our children roots and wings, but knowing didn’t make it feel any better. Letting go is not easy, but I knew that I had to put my need to be needed second to her need to find her own way. Her going to college has signaled the passing of something that I cherished - her childhood and my relationship to her as a child. I can’t help being sad about that.
This change in my life has taught me that grief is not only due to death, but grief can come from any type of separation, ending, or change in our lives. My grief felt like an ending. It was the beginning of the end of my experience of being the kind of mom that I had been for the past 18 years. It was the beginning of my daughter becoming independent and not needing me in the same way she had before.
She is now well on her way to adulthood. I take pride and joy in seeing her make her way. I tell myself that I have taught her all that I could. She knows right and wrong, and the choices she makes will help her grow into the adult she is struggling to become. She is doing what she is supposed to do. She is going to be just fine, and so am I.
“Enjoy the little things in life, for someday you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.”
~ Kurt Vonnegut