It’s Saturday night at 9:39pm. I just went into my daughter’s room and kissed her on the forehead goodnight. I pulled the covers over her shoulders and tucked her tiny feet in. I left the room smiling and thinking about how perfect she is. Sweet, huh? The problem? She’s a freshman in college! She happens to be home for the weekend.
I’m so blessed to have such great kids. All 3 of them are so amazing and talented and smart and beautiful. It’s so hard living without Manda, though. She was born when I was very young, and we sort of grew up together. There were times when we had no one and nothing but eachother, and we knew it. And we clung to eachother. Now, my little bird is ready to spread her wings. I want to clip them.
Two weeks into the semester, she called me at midnight and informed me that there was a gunman outside and that they had been locked in and advised to keep away from the windows. She doesn’t even go to college in the city. It’s a middle of nowhere type school. I stayed up for hours texting her and talking to her, freaking out each second she didn’t text me back, terrified for her. Lucky for her, she has a really great boyfriend who was with her at the time. That made me feel a little better. A little. (Sorry Johnny!) Every cell in my body wanted to jump in the car and drive 3 hours to get her and bring her home and never let her leave the house again. But, of course, that would be insane, so I didn’t. There are all sorts of articles giving advice on how to let go, what is the “healthy” amount of parenting I should be doing, blah, blah, blah. I searched and searched, but didn’t find one entitled “What to do when a crazed gunman is outside your daughter’s dorm room”. It was absolutely one of the most horrifying experiences of my entire life. A few hours later, they had him in custody. He had moved on to a college the next town over. She told me it was over and I was finally able to sleep.
So I sit here, thinking of my not-so-little girl all grown up and out on her own. I think of all the dangerous people and places she will encounter, and I know I can no longer kiss her boo boos and make them better. I can’t keep her away from all the things that will hurt her in her lifetime. I know she has to make her own decisions, her own mistakes, and this is all part of a very natural process. I look at her sister, less than 2 years younger, who will be doing the same thing before I know it. I hope that I have given them the foundation they need to survive.
It all sounds great when I type it, yet here I am, bawling my eyes out like I’m a little girl myself. I don’t want her to leave, I don’t want her sister to leave. I want to find a college in the back yard for them to attend, so I can always make sure they’re okay. I want to look out the window at them and see for myself that there are no wackos around, or that they are eating enough, or that they are not sick or injured.
And that, people, is how it really feels. Anyone who gives you a big schpeal about how it’s the natural progression of life and you’ll be fine is a bold faced liar. I am not fine. Everything has changed, and I don’t like it very much. At some point I will adjust, but I will always miss having them here where I can fix everything.
That being said, I am so much more grateful for the little things, like kissing my baby’s forehead tonight. And I really am looking forward to getting to know my little girls as adults. I’m excited for who they are now, and who they will become. I plan on sticking around for a very long time to watch them continue to grow and pursue their dreams.
Before I close, I offer this word of advice to mothers of little ones:
Tonight, give your kids an extra hug before you send them to bed. Read them that extra story. Before you know it, they go from this:
And there won’t be anything you can do about it.