I’ll Miss You Like Crazy! Saying Goodbye to My College-Bound Daughter
After months and months of preparation, my first-born child, Amanda, 18, is leaving for college next week. I must confess…I am not handling it well.
Of course, I am thrilled for her that she got accepted to the college of her dreams. She worked really hard in high school, earned the top 7% of her class, and gained early automatic admission to a very tough, rigorous and prestigious college. This is exactly what I hoped for her future ever since she started showing signs of intelligence as a child well beyond her years. I could not be more proud.
But I also feel terribly melancholy, sentimental and sad down to my bones. In my head, I know that this is a thrilling new beginning for Amanda, a chance for her to shine in her chosen career path, a chance to make new friends, and a chance to start a new life in a new city. I know that not everyone gets a chance to go to a college like this, and the doors of opportunity will be opening wide for her in the next four years. For this, I am humbled, grateful and over-the-moon happy for her.
So why, then, do I feel on some level that I am experiencing a profound loss?
For a while, I will mourn the loss of that little curly-headed, bubbly toddler who used to follow me around the house like my tiny buddy. The one who curled up in my lap every night for a picture book, or two, or three! The snuggly bunny who loved Winnie the Pooh, soft blankies, puzzles and crayon books. The advisor, best friend and role model to her younger sister, Emily. The teenager who discovered her love for music, late night girly sleepovers and sweet boyfriends.
Speaking of sweet boyfriends, the feeling of sadness and loss extends beyond Amanda to encompass her circle of friends and loved ones as well. This is a huge surprise to me. When you imagine your child leaving in the future someday, you never imagine that your grief will include others as well. I’ve watched many of these kids grow up from elementary age and turn into amazing adults. It has been the privilege of my lifetime. I will miss her friends and her boyfriend being around the house all of the time. My house was always the “gathering place” and that’s exactly how my husband and I planned and hoped it would be.
You don’t imagine yourself getting attached to your daughter’s friends because you are not supposed to, right? But as a parent, it’s hard not to love what your daughter loves. It has been a great honor getting to know Amanda’s boyfriend Taylor over the last 10 months. I can honestly say that we will miss him just as much as we will miss Amanda. We’ve watched him grow and change and become such a confident, talented, and intelligent young man. He is sweet, sensitive, kind, and has a gentle soul. But the way that he obviously loves my daughter just melts my heart into a million gushy pieces. My husband has loved having another man around the house to commiserate with (and kill bugs with), and he will miss Taylor tremendously. Will Amanda and Taylor’s relationship last beyond the challenges of separate colleges? With all of my heart, I hope so and I will pray that it does.
Amanda and I will always be close, so I know that I am not really losing her. She will always need me, but never in the same way as she did before. In an age of texting, face-timing and social media, I’m sure I will hear from her on regular basis, and I will able to keep up with her activities in a sense. But what I am losing is the child that she once was, and my relationship to her as a child. Amanda’s going off to college signals the passing of her cherished childhood and beginning of her becoming an adult.
I can’t help but be a bit sad about that.
Regardless of how often she texts, or how many times she comes home to visit, I am aware that she will be gone now in a far grander sense. She is well on the road to adulthood, and I know that I have to take the backseat now and let her take the wheel. It will be the hardest thing to do, but I take great joy in seeing Amanda make her way with such confidence, independence and determination. She is an amazing young lady. She is extraordinarily capable of making the right decisions, following her moral compass, and leaving her mark on this world.
My sadness feels like an ending, but I know that it is just a beginning. She is, after all, doing exactly what she is supposed to do. God will be with her every step of her grand adventure, and I know she is going to be just fine. I think we have raised her well.