Letting go is hard. Letting go of a child that heads off to college is even harder.
Life is full of milestones, which crescendo when the building process is complete. Although cliché, it is a journey, whether it be the journey of raising your children to be responsible loving adults, or the journey of building a professional career. I only wish I could encapsulate the special moments along the way in a snow globe so that when I dip low, I can look inside, shake the snow, and remember.
How to Prepare Your Heart for College Separation
In the last 10 months, I have worked through a journey that had the potential to rip a mother's heart out. I was living proof that growth evolves from change. Moving six times in the last year, I left my oldest daughter behind in Connecticut with my mom to finish out her final year as a high school student. The rest of the family relocated to California. The months were long and my heart ached to be across the country when she was reaching her high school plateau. The first 11 years were work in process, until she could get accepted into a college.
Once that was completed, she could sit back and enjoy the fruits of her hard work. I missed many celebrations including her induction into the National Honors Society, presentation of honors cords, sports banquets and her last day of school. I had spent 12 years painting a Picasso and when it was completed, I wasn't able to take in it’s affect from onlookers who reveled in it’s beauty. 10 long months turned into June when my family went home to celebrate my daughter’s graduation along with two other major milestones: my oldest niece's wedding and my husband's 50th birthday.
For three magical weeks I was living through my snow globe, surrounded by the people that I had spent the last 48 years investing in my life. Arriving in Connecticut a few days before the graduation ceremony, I drove to the high school to volunteer. When I reached the field where the ceremony was to take place, the sun shone brightly, illuminating the empty chairs, podium and vacant bleachers. Wasn’t I just here for the first freshman football game? I made my way to an empty seat in the middle of the field.
Physically alone, I could feel a greater presence. The warm breeze brought back the memories that began in 1994. “It’s a girl,” I beamed. I would never be alone again. I began to think about kindergarten, my husband chasing the school bus down the street as my daughter's face peered through the window, frightened and forlorn. I remember her second grade teacher and how angry she was when Maegan announced that a little boy in the class had peed in his pants. I remembered 9/11, excusing her from class because I was afraid I would never see her again. I remembered how difficult it was for her to keep up with her academics, but yet she pushed harder.
I reflected back to the eighth grade commencement speech that she gave to her classmates, her days in London living the life of an expat, and finally returning home to Connecticut to live with her childhood friends.
The time flashed before me as the sun beat down on the grass. I began to cry- tears of sadness, tears of joy. I was so proud of her. She had done it and for the last year, and she had done it on her own. Graduating with an abundance of brightly colored honor cords, she was no longer a young girl. Instead, she had become a young woman, bright, charismatic, and full of love for other people and places that she had become so familiar with.
Life was moving forward. I was glad she had decided to come to California for college, but I was reluctant to let go. I wanted these years to go on forever. I wanted to bury them in the globe and freeze them, but I realized that snow globes were not meant to be frozen. They were meant to be enjoyed and encapsulated like the memories in our hearts and minds that would live on with the passage of time.
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