Severing the Umbilical Cord
It seems I’m always starting a new chapter in life. That’s definitely a good thing, considering it means I’m alive and kicking. This new chapter is one of letting go. My baby girl is moving away to Oregon, far away to the opposite coast from where she’s lived all her life. I thought sending her off to college an hour and a half away was traumatic. This is a whole new ball game.
We raise our kids to be independent and self-sufficient with the hopes that they will spread their wings and be happy and successful. I’ve tried my best to do that, but sometimes I wonder if I missed the mark in different areas. Not in how my daughter conducts herself or makes her decisions—just doubts regarding my style of parenting her. I was a single mom when she was going through adolescence and her early teen years, and I had to be tough as nails outside when my heart was soft inside. I tried to find that happy balance and sometimes tipped the scales in being too hard in some decisions and way too easy in others. I wanted to give her everything, but was not financially set to do so at the time. I tried to teach her to love others, be thoughtful and caring, appreciate her family and those who love her, and having a firm foundation in faith. Those areas I pretty much succeeded in, but I’m not sure about the decisions of material items. Did I give too much? Did I give too little? Was making her work for what she wanted the wrong thing to do? Should her stepdad and I have made life easier for her during her college years by providing more? How do we measure how good or bad we are at parenting? I guess there is no measure—the kids either turn out to be decent human beings or they don’t. Is it really that simple?
She did turn out to be an awesome, hard-working, and driven young woman. She’s made her way through college with academic scholarships, she’s lived off campus, and maintained a part-time job to cover her rent and personal expenses. She had a little help from her stepdad and me, but she’s mostly done it on her own. She’s never been to jail, didn’t get pregnant, dates a nice young man, and hangs out with a nerdy young crowd all working toward successful futures.
But, about this move to Oregon. I didn’t agree with it at first. It’s way too far away and there is no family in close proximity. All she has is a prestigious internship in her field of study, and she is very excited about it. Seeing her excitement, of course, melted my heart. She’s made up her mind, and she’s going for it. She’s even invited me along for the road trip. Now, that’s cool.
Regarding the move, I tried to give advice on planning ahead. The control freak in me panicked. Where was she going to live? Where was she going to work while doing her internship so she could afford housing? Would her car make the trip there and back? What about state taxes when she works in Oregon? Will she find a doctor that takes our insurance if she needs medical attention? Where will she house her cat? What will she eat?
The poor kid was trying to make it through her last couple weeks of college finals and making preparations to move from one place to another, and my questions were only irritating and stressing her out. I can’t answer these questions for her and I can’t complete the tasks so they are checked off my mental list. So, what is the solution?
After much prayer and some solid advice from my husband, the solution sounded easy, “Mom—butt the heck out.” She is twenty-two. This is her experience. Her entire life from this point on is her own gig. That’s not easy advice for a hover mother to accept, but I’m going to try.
Now, I’m just looking forward to the ride. I’m going to sit in the passenger seat and enjoy the passing terrain of the coast-to-coast trip—literally. I’m looking forward to the one-on-one time with her and enjoying the view of traveling through places we’ve never been—on her terms, not mine. I trust her. She’s got this. She’ll be seeing this as a fresh new adventure. I’ll be seeing it as a severing of the umbilical cord. All in all, it will be a very good thing for both of us. It’s always a good thing to start a new chapter.