Overcast   32.0F  |  Forecast »
Edit Module

The Parental Catch-22

One local mom shares how her daughter's easy transition away from home and at college makes her proud – and a little sad

During every "last" moment of my daughter's senior year in high school, someone would invariably ask me if I was going to cry. For the record, I never did. I didn't shed a tear on her last first day, her last last day, while taking her final prom photo, during her last ice-show solo, when she walked at commencement, or even during her graduation party. So I was totally unprepared when I got home from dropping her off at college and then sat clutching her cat with tears running down my face.

I figured out why it was that particular moment that reduced me to tears. The preceding "final" moments really changed nothing. Prom/finals/ice show may be over, but life continues on. There was always the next thing to plan and prepare for. Until now. And college was the culminating goal we always had in our sights. Everything led up to it. And now it's here, and everything has changed.

And while I may argue that the tears were from that feeling of emptiness that almost always follows the completion of a giant goal, I'm aware enough to admit that they were also due to the fact that I know I am going to miss her. And that things will never be the same. Our house is no longer her home; now it is her nest. It's a place to come back to for rest and recovery before heading back out again.

We all miss her. She's creative and funny and great to have around. Who wouldn't miss having someone like that in their home? I miss coming home to find her and a friend baking something interesting. I miss coming home and finding that everything in my refrigerator is wearing googly eyes. I miss how kind she was to her little brother (most of the time), and I miss how whenever I'd find her sitting down, her cat would be on top of her – like he knew she was planning to leave and was trying to pin her to the furniture.

The first few days I found it hard – so hard – not to text her every day. How was skating practice? Did you find all your classrooms yet? How's the food in the cafeteria? Are you sleeping OK? Are you getting along with your roommate? Somehow, I instinctively knew that if I smothered her right away, she'd come to resent hearing from me instead of looking forward to it. So I didn't text. I didn't call. I followed her Facebook page and Twitter feeds, grateful for any little quip she posted.

"The Starbucks guy's name tag says Glen Coco, so naturally I'm expecting 4 drinks."

"Some nice boys with a giant blow up alien just came in my room to say hi #typical"

I can't imagine how parents survived before social media. But it worked, and I did start hearing from her. Not regularly. And certainly not with all the details I used to get. I miss the details.

We are adjusting to existing as a family trio instead of a quartet. I've stopped checking her bedroom when I get up for work in the morning and almost stopped thinking "Oh good! Alicia's home!" every time I come home and see her car in the driveway. It's always in the driveway. Her brother has stopped saying "I miss Alicia" on a daily basis and has started emailing her instead. My husband continues to surprise her with little gifts, only now they get sent through the mail instead of appearing on the kitchen island.

A confession: I spent 18 years getting her ready to go off on her own as a confident, capable and self-sufficient young woman – and now I find that she's too confident, capable and self-sufficient for my comfort. I wouldn't mind if she needed me a little more, but if she needed me more, I wouldn't get to feel like I'd done a good job preparing her. It's the parental Catch-22. And there's no getting out of the service.

Add your comment:
Edit Module
Edit Module
Advertisement
Edit Module

More »Latest Articles & Blog Posts

Holiday Ham Recipes

Holiday Ham Recipes

Still looking for some ideas for your big holiday dinner? This year, try a new recipe for your Christmas ham – thanks to these ideas from Taste of Home, Pillsbury and more.

Hanukkah Crafts for Kids: Holiday Picture Frame

Hanukkah Crafts for Kids: Holiday Picture Frame

If you're celebrating the holiday and looking for quick and easy crafts for kids, this fun and affordable little keepsake is a great way to display family memories.

Dad Gets Unexpected Reaction to Terrible Christmas Gifts

Dad Gets Unexpected Reaction to Terrible Christmas Gifts

British dad pranks his kids with bad Christmas presents, but didn't get the reaction he was expecting – and it's pretty sweet.

Simple Holiday Family Crafts to Make with On-Hand Material

Simple Holiday Family Crafts to Make with On-Hand Material

Does your family have paper cups, Legos, plastic spoons or toilet-paper rolls lying around? Transform them into angels, snowmen and even a chimney for Santa!

Bath Time Safety Tips for Babies and Toddlers

Bath Time Safety Tips for Babies and Toddlers

What's the best way to bathe your child? How can you keep them safe in the tub? A pediatric doctor at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit has tips.

Snowman Dessert Recipes: Tasty and Cute Ideas

Snowman Dessert Recipes: Tasty and Cute Ideas

Who doesn't love Frosty the Snowman? Kids will enjoy making – and eating! – some of these adorable and delicious snowman recipes.

Holiday Stamping Favorite Supplies from Stampin' Up

Holiday Stamping Favorite Supplies from Stampin' Up

Crafty company Stampin' Up offers a variety of fun stampers, punches and paper that transform into cool gift tags, cards and other fun DIY projects.

Edit Module
Advertisement
Edit Module
Advertisement
Edit Module
Advertisement