A pair of doves has built a nest in our garage. We repeatedly tried to shoo them out until we realized they’d already managed to construct the nest and laid an egg. We then started to support them by leaving the garage open a crack and putting out a small bowl of water. They are vigilant. One of them is always sitting on the nest guarding and incubating the egg.
When I was pregnant with each of my children, I felt such relief and excitement on the first day of the month in which they were due. We’d made it. The delivery date was in sight. All the months of waiting and worrying were about to pay off. The baby was about to arrive, and our family would change forever. Those memories came flooding back when the calendar rolled over to August 1 this year. This month, my oldest child, and only daughter, Riley will start college over eight hundred miles away from home. The anticipation of her absence is hard at times. I now truly know the meaning of bittersweet.
I had a little meltdown the other day, and by little meltdown, I mean sobbing uncontrollably for about an hour. I was talking to my therapist when I realized that I’d been attempting to wall off my emotions. If I could avoid thinking about it, I could avoid the feelings. But that’s not how emotions work – if we don’t let them out, they fester inside of us. When the wall finally came tumbling down, the tears and sadness rushed in with overwhelming force. I felt better after my crying episode. I’m not suggesting I won’t cry more because I know I will, but I think I moved a little closer to acceptance after that emotional release and the acknowledgement that I was in denial.
While I’m sad Riley is leaving, I’m also proud of her. This is exactly what Ben and I raised her to do. All the waiting and worrying is about to pay off. Her launch date is in sight. She is ready. My girl is independent and disciplined. She worked so hard in high school in both academics and dance. Her potential is limitless. She is about to embark on an amazing adventure. And I need her to know that I am happy for her. That we are cheering for her. That we believe in her. I don’t want to hold her back in any way. I especially don’t want her worried about me. This is the right thing and the right time for her.
Obviously, the dynamics of our home life will change as she ventures out on her own. Thankfully, I’ll still have my boys at home to keep me busy. Although I’m warning my friends, if I start making crude and off-color jokes on a regular basis after being surrounded by boys all the time, please take me on a girls’ night out.
My bird friends are still waiting. After the bird hatches, they’ll have to raise the baby until it is mature enough to fly away. The metaphor is not lost on me. We’ve spent the last eighteen years on a similar journey. I can’t keep my daughter in my nest forever. Through the tears, I’ll celebrate her accomplishments and wait with anticipation to see all of the wonderful things she experiences. My baby is ready to fly, and I believe she will soar.