When I was 18 years old, I moved out of my parents house. The house I had lived in since I was nine. I packed up the things in my bedroom that I didn't want anyone to mess with, took some clothes and some dishes and the quilt my grandma made for me, and my parents drove me to Provo. I think I cried the whole way there, and I know I cried after they all left. I was SO excited to get out on my own, but when the moment came to go, I was terrified. I was lonely. I didn't know any of my roommates. I knew a few friends from High School around campus, but they had different schedules and different classes and different lives, and we didn't see each other much. Oh yes, those were HARD times.
Well, last week my 18 year-old daughter packed up her things and took some clothes and some dishes and her collection of Pillow Pets and we drove her to the dorms and dropped her off. She had a few tears in her eyes when we left, but I sobbed all the way to the car and most of the way home. I stopped sobbing long enough to pay attention to the road, but when I pulled in the driveway, my sobbing began anew. Loud, barking sobs that made my throat hurt.
I still cry almost every day, but just a few tears. I cry when I see Kate's music sitting on the piano. I cry when I make lunches and I don't make one for her. I cry when I'm teaching because Kate won't have any more lessons from me. And I cry because I know she is struggling. She's on her own for the first time in her life, and she is making decisions about how to schedule her time--when to work, when to practice, when to eat.
I want to help her. I want to draw up a schedule for her and tell her if she'll just do all the things at the time I tell her to, everything will be OK. But these are things she has to learn for herself, and if I do them for her, she'll never grow and progress.
Dennis and I have talked a lot about this kind of thing over the past few months. We talked about it a lot when Paul moved to Alaska, and then when he went on his mission. Did we prepare our children well enough? Do they know the things they need to know to survive on their own? We have reminisced about our first semesters at college (both VERY bad), and remembered our first years of marriage (happy, but hard). We have talked about letting our sweet children struggle, and watching, able to help but unwilling to interfere. And last night, Dennis actually said the words I had been thinking, "Do you feel kind of Heavenly Father-ish?"
Yes, I think I do. I love them SO MUCH. I miss them now that they're gone. Things will never be the same. But I want them to learn to take care of themselves, and that means letting them suffer the consequences of their decisions, and letting them feel the satisfaction of a job well done. I hope they know I am here if they need me and I will help if I can, but a lot, A LOT, of the lessons that are coming their way are lessons they will have to learn on their own. That's just the way it is.
So, here's to the newlyweds, and here's to my girl out on her own. I love you so much. I love you forever. And you take my heart and my prayers with you wherever you go and whatever you do. And it's OK to come home and ask for help, in fact, we WANT you to! We can give advice and sometimes even money! And we'll all gradually adjust to this new normal, and we'll all be better for the growth and change.
3 hours ago