Sue Ellen Jackson
Dear Sue Ellen,
My daughter is getting ready to leave home. She is going to college. I am happy for her, but I can’t stop crying. It is embarrassing. I put on my game face for her while we do stuff to get her ready to leave, like packing and shopping; but on the inside I am a wreck. Do you think I should go to counseling?
For me, it was a defining moment in my life when they put each newborn baby into my arms for the first time. Everything changed. My whole life was altered by my responsibilities, and love, for my children. I am a better person because of them. Did I do a good job as a parent? In some ways yes, but in many ways, no. Then it was over. My children grew up; left me, and like you, I was a wreck. I hope you can see that I understand what you are going through. Lots of parents are grappling with a host of questions as their kids walk out the door and into a new life. Are they ready? Will they be safe? Will they make the right decisions? Do they know how much I love them? Will they miss me? Was I a good enough parent? Will they come back?
From the moment your daughter was born, you began the process of teaching her to become an independent person. From drinking out of a cup, to walking, to potty training, to the first day of school, to the last day of school, you have been teaching your daughter to navigate through life. We want our children to grow up, don’t we? What about us? What about our feelings? Doesn’t that count too?
This season of a parent’s life can be called normal, but it feels like anything but normal. When my kids left me, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I drifted through life for a while like a discarded old shoe floating aimlessly in the water. Finally something occurred to me. I still had a life and the possibility of adventures awaited me. I joined a gym, dyed my hair and got a tattoo of a wildflower on my ankle. Ok….granted, some of those things weren’t the best ideas, but hey, I was doing something! That was over twenty years ago, and I was right! Life is still full of adventures!
My suggestion to you is don’t beat yourself up for feeling the way you do. You will still be her parent, but it will be different. Having adult children can be nice. You may still think of your daughter as the adorable little girl you once knew, but see her as a young woman making her way. Counseling is a healthy choice if you think it would help.
If I had to go through that phase of my life over again, I think I would go to counseling. Nobody wants to be a worn out old shoe.
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