As I pondered all day on everything my daughter needed to get her off to college, I was suddenly overwhelmed that there was a possibility she wasn’t completely prepared. I must have left something out in her 18 years of living with me. Did I tell her every thought I had on what could be on the minds of college men? Did she pay attention when I told her how to figure out a guy was true? Did she believe me when I told her to never drink her beverage again if she left it unattended at a party or bar? And most importantly did she get it when I told her how important it was to always stay in a group? These thoughts raced through my mind with a huge feeling of self-doubt coupled with a great sense of loss I knew was coming in the next couple of days.
At one point I remember looking across the kitchen counter, with a lump in my throat, asking if she thought I told her everything she needed to know before she left home. She gently looked at me and said “Mom…. I am sure you told me enough stories about life to get me through at least the first day.” I smiled and knew she would be okay, I had prepared her for this; it was just so hard letting go.
Rosie, our only child was going off to the University of Illinois the next day. This was her destiny, a part of her life her father and I planned for her since the day she was born. It was here, and I had to suck it up, pack her up, and smile when I said goodbye.
So that’s what I did. U of I seemed so far away - that 2 ½ hour ride. How would I be able to get to her if she needed me? The first goodbye was the hardest, however it got easier as time went by. After a couple of months, I thought of her as just a cornfield away, and it was comforting. I actually planned a day trip visit more than once which worked well. I didn’t want to be a pest or too needy so I tried to keep a distance to give her space.
Four years came and went. They included a 5 month stint in Granada Spain which sharpened her Spanish skills, a boyfriend, living together with many young women at her sorority house, and even taking me to class with her on Mom’s weekend. Both her dad and I were included in college adventures which eased our pain.
Rosie graduated, and came home to find that perfect job she went to college for. However, getting involved in Illinois politics the wanderlust in her spoke up with a desire to go to Washington D.C. Again, I helped her pack her bag, sucked it up, and bid her farewell as she left to board an airplane. With many successes in jobs, most notably working on Capitol Hill, she also found a guy that was true. Married in November of last year, the deal was sealed.
As I look back at the past eight years I would not have changed a thing. She has her wings and fly’s back as often as she can. The adventures I have been on with her are priceless and many. I also experienced a freedom that you are supposed to get when a child leaves the nest.
So you see…..I gave her wings, and she gave me mine
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