“The secret to surviving a child leaving the nest is to be fully present and support them and look forward to the future through the lens of their life, not backward through the lens of my life.”
-Kami Gilmour, author Release My Grip
Well, that sounds lovely! If it were just that easy. What I’m really doing is analyzing everything we’ve ever done as parents. Were we too hard, were we too lenient? Did we teach her proper manners? Did we eat dinner together enough? Did I criticize her too much? Are we friends? Will she miss us? What if she’s lonely? What if she doesn’t move back after college? The years have become a blur, what did she look like in 2nd grade? How has the time already come for our baby to go to college? I may have a panic attack at her graduation! How will our house be without her in it?
The truth is that we DID parent her well, actually to the very best of our abilities! We have loved her unconditionally and told her as much. Our hearts have broken for her through life’s trials and danced for her through life’s glorious moments. We didn’t know what kind of parents we’d be but we are the parents that she was meant to have. She was not the only one that made mistakes, we did too. We have learned together.
She is ready to go, she is excited and hopeful and prepared. Nothing could be better than knowing this. She is amazing, she is beautiful, she is unique. She came out with her own little personality and I hope that we helped shape the person that she was born to be. Our hearts will ache for her when she leaves. Our hearts will be full when we hear from her and see that she’s thriving.
Our baby, our child, our teenager, our friend…she has been a light in our lives every single day for almost 18 years. It doesn’t seem possible that it’s time. But it is time, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for her. We will always be there to catch her when she falls and to rejoice in her accomplishments.
So it has come to this- time to release our loving, protective grip- and let her go.
-Nancy Cofran is a Licensed Professional Counselor and the mom to two teenaged daughters