Okay, this child being away at college thing? So much more complicated than I thought. I mean, I knew I would miss my daughter in a hole-in-my-heart sort of way. I even knew life would go on without her here, at home, every day even with my belly clenching whenever I really thought about it. Denial and ignorance did prove to be the two most blissful things in the world. But what I didn’t expect was the all-is-right-with-the-world feeling I gained when she did return home and not in the way you would think.
My daughter, Leah, came home from college last night for Thanksgiving Break. My husband picked her up and drove her home. Since her college is pretty darn far, it took about 10 to 12 hours round trip. Needless to say, while I’ve been up there…over there….about 3 times, Leah has not been home since early August. When she walked into the living room where I excitedly greeted her, Leah fell into my arms and we cried. Awe, right? It was an extremely touching moment. For her, she was overwhelmed by smelling the unique scents which all houses…no make that homes…hold. She was taken aback by the familiar things that made it her home – an old dog, overweight guinea pigs (okay, and an overweight Mom too) , the memorable Thanksgiving turkey collection scattered around the house – even the dust bunnies peaked out at her arrival. And Leah heard the comforting sounds of home – the heat kicking on, cars driving by outside, an old refrigerator’s battle to keep on keeping on. All of these – the smells, the visions and the sounds of our home – seeped into her and brought out so many feelings – happiness, sadness, warmth and welcome.
Me? Like I said, I did cry to when I saw her. I was glad she was home. Not only did I miss her, but she brought back with her a missing element. With her in the living room, my son upstairs sleeping and my husband bringing in her dirty clothes, my Mom life, if just for this week, was back to what it once was. But as she sat down and we caught up, what really hit me, what really made me feel at peace and gave me that all-is-right-with-the-world-feeling, was how my child….my adult child….is making it. She struck out in the world, a world five to six hours away from me, and called it her own. She nourishes herself, sets her own budget, makes new friends who have no connection with anyone other than her and is figuring out the juggling act of college. She was…is…doing all of this on her own and without her soft place to land. Or rather, creating a different soft place to land. Sure, there are always tears shed and worries and anxieties – hers and mine – but she’s making it and making it all by herself. I cannot put into words how much pride I get from this.
As a parent, you do give your child values and skills. You hope your child uses them when the are away from you. And when they become that adult-child and don’t return to you by the day’s end, that’s when the true test… if they have the right skills to take into the world… plays out. As I listened to Leah and how much she’s figured out — still figuring out — being on her own, I saw her in this whole new light. She is everything my husband and I would want her to be – independent, kind, funny, bright and full of life. Yeah, I know there will be and have been mistakes or slip-ups. We all have them. That is part of life afterall. And I will always be here for her. But for the most part, her head is pretty straight on her shoulders.
I thought having my adult-child break away from me would set me back emotionally. I thought I’d be a wreck. Don’t get me wrong, I do get somewhat sad in the nostaligic sort of way, but overwhelmingly? Nah. In fact, I am over the moon. The moon that hangs over the home she came back to yesterday. The one that tells me all is right with the world…Leah’s world and mine.