Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bye-Bye, Baby

"Go find your life." -- The Help, Kathrynn Stockett

I won't call it the hardest week of my life - that would be a little too melodramatic, and it wouldn't be true. But this week is one of my most challenging as a mother, as I let my little girl go. Today we are taking Katie to college.

Sheila here.
I've been preparing for this day for years. Being a mother is a long series of letting go -- the day Katie let go of my hands to take her tiny first steps when she was a year old, the first day she boarded the school bus, the first time she was allowed to go to a friend's house alone, and the first time she drove. I stayed up with her all night when she was a baby because she was hungry or sick, and I have stayed up most of the night worrying about her a few times too. I have wiped away tears after skinned knees, and after girls were mean, and the first time a boy broke her sweet heart. I have done my best to make sure she is ready for this day, but I don't think there's anything I can do to be ready myself.

Last year at this time, she was getting her college applications completed and starting her senior year. And in recent months, we've been spending lots of family time together while also shopping for dorm supplies and planning for her move. It's all seemed a bit surreal, and I can't believe that mound of stuff which was in my basement is loaded up at the front door, ready to go down I-71 this morning. The other day Katie asked me how long we're sticking around when we get to the dorm. (I think that meant she doesn't want us around too long!) Looking back at my own move-in day at Ohio University, I know I didn't get what it meant for my mother. She wasn't one to talk about feelings, and I was just too excited to notice. She later told me she cried so much on the way back home that she had a headache for a couple of days! I know how my mother felt - I couldn't stop crying Sunday morning when I realized the time for letting go of Katie is really here.

I am sad, but I am thrilled at the same time. Sad that those years flew by so fast, but thrilled that my daughter grew into the healthy, strong young woman I once could only picture in my mind. I am grateful that she's able and smart, and I am glad that she's excited about beginning the next big phase of her life. I think I've taught her everything I could (I sure hope it has stuck!) While I wish I had some magic words that would inspire her to greatness, my hope is that she doesn't need them - that she will be inspired by her own dreams and desires, and that one day my daughter finds the gifts which she doesn't even know she has. My hope is that Katie will make herself proud. She sure has done that for me and her dad.

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