Parent, Educator, Author
I woke early today, mostly due to the pesky thunderstorm raging outside. But also because my head is full of thoughts and my heart is full of feelings. You see, my oldest daughter is a senior in high school this year. We’re getting ready to say goodbye, not goodbye to her being our daughter, but to this stage of both her life and our lives.
We just came back from a college tour, and we both loved this place. It’s full of the kinds of students we can imagine her being friends with, professors we can imagine mentoring her, activities we can imagine her getting involved in. But, and here’s the part that woke me up this morning, it’s so far from home.
I still remember so vividly the thrill when I found out that we were expecting our oldest. For her first two years, she and I spent almost every moment together, exploring the city of Budapest, where she was born and we lived as expatriates at the time. She was my buddy, my fellow adventurer.
When first one younger sister, then another, came along, she became something new: an older sibling, a guide, a leader. I’ve watched how her sisters watch her, how she sets a good example, how she advises them.
I’ve seen her wrestle with life’s challenges, learning and growing, losing and winning. I’ve seen her grace and thoughtfulness grow as she has cried in disappointment and laughed in victory. I believe in her, and I trust the young woman she is and who she is becoming.
And yet, I sit here crying at 7am on a Sunday morning. Because I love her more than words can say. Because I want the world for her, but that’s not something I can give. Because I know that for her to flourish in the ways both she and I long for, I have to let her go.
So, like many parents at many different stages, I’m getting ready to say goodbye. Not to my amazing daughter, but to this stage of childhood, to this part of our journey together. I know, in my heart and mind, that there are more adventures to be had and shared, both together and apart. And yet, ah, the pain of letting go, of moving out of one stage and into another. It still holds me.
So, I’ll let myself feel it, this bittersweet feeling of joy and loss all rolled up together. I won’t stay too busy to acknowledge it, I won’t stuff it away or ignore it. And I hope, in choosing that, I can teach my daughter one more lesson: that life is to be lived, fully. That both joy and pain have a place in our hearts, and allowing ourselves to just be where we are at the moment, to feel what we feel, to not hide from hard feelings, that is part of a healthy life. And she’s going to need those kinds of skills as she moves forward, onward, into this new adventure.