There are so many articles bursting with advice as to how we should handle letting our children step into the world. I've avoided most of them because they always make me cry. So here's my best shot at a letter to my daughter describing the roller coaster of emotions my heart and head are experiencing.
I'm still not sure how we got here. In my mind, you're still that toddler banging on the glass back door yelling "SHOES!!!", wanting us to be outside CONSTANTLY. Even from the time you were a baby, you were looking at that big wide world outside that glass and knowing you had to be a part of it. You chanted "SHOES" multiple times a day for about three years.
Now here I am on the eve of bringing you to college. As much as I'd like to turn back the clock and return to a time where you'd ride on your dad's shoulders everywhere, I know this is a natural step that is the pure definition of bitter sweet. If I were a mature parent, it would just be sweet, but so much of me still wants you to stay with us forever.
Many people told me the summer before kids go off to college is usually the most tumultuous. A year ago, I would have said they were crazy, but now, having experienced it, I wholeheartedly agree. We've really done a lot of talking/working/sharing/fighting/laughing/crying and living in the past four months. The powerfulness of this moment hasn't been taken lightly.
Have I taught you every critical thing you need to know? Who will be there to say, "Make smart choices" every day? Now that I'm not there saying it, do you think you might be able to do it more? Who will remind you that you aren't invincible and you need to always be safe and aware?
As much as I'm worried about how much I prepared you, I know I myself am woefully unprepared for the gut wrenching worry that overwhelms me. I can't describe it as sadness because my head realizes this is a good thing, but my heart is going to miss you terribly.
I guess I should concentrate more on the things I won't miss. Hopefully I won't be missing all my iphone chargers anymore. I'll welcome back my Jeep with open arms. I won't miss staying up night after night with constant worry - at least I'm hoping that subsides a bit - I've heard out of sight/out of mind - but whoever came up with that obviously didn't meet me.
Rumor has it that college students don't answer phone calls or texts from parents for days - if ever. I promise to scale back, but you have to answer the same day. If you don't, you pretty much know eventually I'll track you down, and how much would that suck?
I also need to tell you I'm sorry. I know I made a ton of mistakes during this whole parenting thing. I look back now and wish I did things differently - better really. I'd like to think you turned out so great because of me, but it's probably more like despite of me.
We are so incredibly proud of you and with everything we've gone through, I think you know that even though we are letting you go, you ALWAYS have a soft place to land here at home. Our arms and hearts are always open - we absolutely and purely love you unconditionally. Your dad and I are bursting with pride - so please excuse all the tears I'm about to shed in the next 24 hours - we really are excited to see what your next chapter holds.
I know you're independent and want to be the pillar of strength, but please make sure you let me know I'm still needed every once and a great while.
So this is me, throwing that glass door wide open. You don't have to hold my hand anymore. It's time for you to put your shoes on and run. No one is telling you no - you go out there and create an amazing future. It's time for us to share you with the world and no matter where you travel, know we're both looking at the same moon we promised to love you to and back from forever.
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