My oldest child moved away on March 11th for college and her Grand Adult Adventure. She graduated High School at semester, and to her credit, has a plan in place for her future. I knew this day would come from the moment she was born, but even after 17 years I wasn’t quite ready for it to happen. I think I thought I had an endless amount of time with her before she chose to fly the nest. I would bet all parents feel like this – I know I am not the only one – it’s just my first time experiencing it. The days and nights seem so long when you are raising children. But, like the old cliche, in the blink of an eye it’s over.
17 years seems like an eternity for a 24 year old new mom who doesn’t even feel grown yet herself. But now, at 42, my baby grew up and moved away to follow her dreams. I am so proud of her, but I miss her. We all miss her.
She wasn’t the best at finding a trash can, and I would get so aggravated at the Jolly Rancher wrappers strewn about the house, but like Hansel and Gretel and their trail of crumbs, those wrappers meant she was home. Now – and it’s only been a week – all of those stray wrappers have found their way to the trash can and there are none to take their place.
With three remaining children at home we are now moving bedrooms around, creating new spaces for the ones left behind, and making a new haven for the one who moved away and will only return as a visitor from now on. It’s such a bizarre feeling I haven’t quite grasped the finality of it yet.
She is an award-winning artist, and her artwork adorns the home. Her sculptures that once were displayed behind a protective barrier at museums around the state sit on the shelves, safe until she is ready to create her own home to take them to. Her drawings are waiting to be framed and hung up, yet they still sit in my office because I am not ready for her to not be here. They become a constant reminder that she’s gone, but I am not prepared for them to leave as well.
One of my proudest moments with her, of which there are too many, was at a portfolio review for college and she was offered a scholarship on the spot, and she didn’t even have a complete portfolio. The little bit of art she had with her was enough to earn her enrollment at that college. Eventually she will come for all of it, like we did of our things as we grew and moved on from our family homes.
When the U-Haul trailer was loaded with all of her belongings she would need in the future I realized the finality of the situation. Living on the adrenaline of packing and cleaning and getting her ready was enough to keep my anxiety and thoughts from overwhelming me, but when the door rolled down over almost all of her worldly treasures it hit me that she had grown up. She will always be my baby, but I had to let her go, because that is what you do.
She will soar farther than I ever imagined, of that I am certain. But I don’t think we are ever ready for when they finally spread their wings.