How parenting feels like one long goodbye

How parenting feels like one long goodbye

I am terrible at goodbyes.

If parting is such sweet sorrow, I’m usually more overwhelmed by the sorrowful part than the sweet part.

This can make life hard. Just ask my husband, who had to deal with a lot of teary farewells during our long-distance courtship.

And it’s especially challenging when it comes to parenting. Raising a child often feels like one long goodbye to me.

There are the daily goodbyes, such as sending her off to school. While those are routine, some days it is tougher to do than others. But the bigger goodbyes come with their evolution from stage to stage. The metamorphosis from child to adult that is adolescence means a transformation, and a shedding of who they have been.

I’m not all gloom and doom. I recognize and celebrate that it’s all a part of them getting their wings so they can soar and become exactly who they are meant to be in this amazing world.

Saying goodbye to the beautiful baby also meant welcoming a terrific toddler, and the end of the tween years meant the beginning of the teen years. (And they really are better than conventional wisdom would have you believe. Maybe not easier, but definitely better.)

I’m grateful for glimpses of who my teen has been. Little peaks into the past come with a particular way she says a few particular words or the way her face lights up like it did when she was tiny or an inside joke that we’ve kept alive for the better part of a decade.

But a big part of parenting a teen – arguably the biggest goal of all – is preparing to launch them into the world without you.

The really big goodbye.

I was recently talking about this with a good friend. My daughter alternates holidays at our house and her dad’s house, and while she was with him this Thanksgiving I realized that next year will be her final Thanksgiving before she leaves for college. That knocked the wind out of me.

My friend said that while his kids are younger, he’s very aware of them one day saying goodbye and he often thinks about it while tucking them in at night.

We know that it’s a privilege to see a child through to adulthood. It’s also a joy.

But those future goodbyes hang in the distance. The closer they get, the harder they are to ignore. But they also serve as an insistence to be in the present, to be the best parent I can be and to enjoy who my child is at this exact moment.

While I’ll miss who she is today, I can’t wait to see who she becomes tomorrow.

This post was part of ChicagoNow’s Blogapalooza, a monthly exercise during which  bloggers are given one topic and one hour to write on it. Today’s topic was about a time you had to say goodbye. It’s always fun to see the different takes and approaches, and you can find the responses to this prompt here.

Prior Post: Riveting YA books that are great gifts for teens

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