Among the Wildflowers: A mom's reflection on taking her daughter to college


The dining room is filled with brown packing boxes, Ikea bags, plastic storage bins and an unidentified number of Command Strips. There's a life size duffle bag sitting next to the door. The dog seems a bit out of sorts knowing something is up. We are taking our first born to college today and my feelings are all over the place.

It's strange really, this thing called letting go. In one moment I'm lost in my mind, watching my then five year old sketching her favorite trees at the park and in the next I am fully present, smiling at how lucky I am to have this perfectly imperfect young woman in my life. I marvel that I am the lucky one to be her mom.

I'll be walking my dog, finding peace in our daily ritual and suddenly my eyes sting and tears begin to flow. The tears creep up on me and just appear. Because the rawness of letting go of Girl fills me with equal parts sadness and joy, the emotions run freely as my body's reaction to what's going on inside of me will not lie: This is a big deal. And big deals, life moments, life changing moments rock us to our core.

I'm strangely calm at this core rocking though - it makes me wonder if in 48 hours when Hubs and I are on our way home from the drop off, I will somehow break, fall apart and not be so calm. Perhaps. And I'm ok with that. I made a choice a little while back. A choice to just let myself feel whatever it is I am feeling at the moment. The feels have included, but have not been limited to: gratitude, sadness, joy, grief, fear, anxiety, love, pride, anger, annoyance, irritability, giddiness, anticipation, excitement and melancholy.

Not gonna lie - it's been a bit exhausting. I wouldn't trade a moment of it. I am so grateful I was given this chance to watch over my daughter for 18 years and 30 some days. She has taught me more than I think I've taught her: she's taught me patience (which I still have little of) forgiveness, kindness, gentleness, tolerance, openness and what it means to truly and fully love. She has taught me the importance of acceptance. She has taught me how to let go. I am grateful I am her mom.

I am grateful she is leaving us. I am grateful she is physically and emotionally healthy enough to do so. It is what she is supposed to do. It is how it should be. I am grateful I get to sit by on the sidelines and watch her life unfold. I hope to be a part in some of it.

This is perhaps the most difficult part of the letting go: knowing her life now more than ever will be created without me in it. I will know less about her than I do today. And this is as it should be. It makes me happy and sad.

My father nicknamed my Girl his 'Gypsy.' Part due to her long, brown, wild flowing locks at the age of only two, part due to her fanciful nature. One of her preschool teachers told me she adored Girl for her whimsical ways and her free spirit. At the time, I remember thinking those traits were somehow not ones to admire. Now? I envy my Girl's ways. I applaud them. I embrace her need for freedom, her changing passions and her strength of self.

Years ago, when she was heading to high school, the radio played Wildflowers by Tom Petty. I'd heard the song some years before, but knew once I heard it this time, the song would forever remind me of Girl.

I wait on baited breath to see what she will make of her life. I can't wait to see my Girl meet new people, learn new opinions, find new passions and maybe fall in love. As Tom Petty sings, in his stream of consciousness song: "You belong among the wildflowers, you belong somewhere you'll feel free."

How are you doing with the start of the school year? Is something new happening in your world? Let me know in the comments below.

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