In my novel, Chaysing Dreams, Tess, the main character leaves for Stanford. Here’s a little excerpt when her parents drop her off:
When our parents bring us to our apartment to drop Kylie and I off, it’s the strangest feeling. I mean, we’re going to be totally on our own. Eighteen and independent! Nobody is going to be checking up on me. No curfew! No rules! I can do whatever I want. Wow, it feels amazing to have this freedom.
Both of our parents give us really tearful goodbyes. My dad can barely look at me. He just mumbles to be careful under his breath and walks out.
After they leave, Kylie and I just lie on our beds in our apartment, staring at the ceiling. We both have separate bedrooms, but because the two bedrooms are across from each other, we can see one another. Instead of feeling excited, it feels empty. Just that quick, the appeal of “freedom” is gone.
In my own life, my oldest baby just left for college this week. After living under the same roof for the last eighteen years, I now have to get used to not seeing her every day. It feels like I’m just throwing her out there to the world. Is she ready? Did I prepare her enough? Will she be able to problem solve through tough situations? Will she know whom she can trust, or will she be naïve and trust everybody?
Yes, I torture myself with these thoughts every day and night. It’s just a mother’s instincts to protect her baby. If I can keep all of the pain away from my children their entire life, I would. I want nothing more than to protect them and keep them from all the cruelty and evil of the world.
But the practical side talks to me. Yes, I do have conversations with myself… you know, all of those voices in my head. Hence, I’m a writer. Anyway, the practical side tells me that I can’t keep my children in a bubble their whole life. Let’s face it. They have to go out there and learn. The only way they can grow up to be a respectable man or a woman is by experiencing all that life brings—and that includes the good and the bad. Yeah, yeah… blah, blah, blah…
My husband says it’s time to “cut the cord.” He keeps telling me we did our job with our daughter, and we should be proud. She’s attending a great university and isn’t that what all parents want for their children? To succeed? Okay, I’ll give that to him. But can’t she just go to a local college and commute from home?
Well, it’s been three days since Taj has left. And although, I miss her dearly, I know it would be very selfish of me to keep her from experiencing these years at a major university. After all, I attended the same university, and I have to admit, they were the best years of my life.
So, even though my heart feels like somebody is squeezing the life out of it at times, and I desperately try to take deep breaths to get some air into my lungs, I let her go. Ultimately, all a parent really wants is his or her child to be happy. And I have to allow my babies to find their own happiness.
Here’s to you, Taj. May you find your own path in life. And may your path be smooth and full of happy memories.