I’m starting to see the Facebook posts. Parents sending kids off to college.
Helping them decorate their dorm room. Reflecting on how quickly 18 years went.
They all read something like this: “I’m going to miss you like crazy but I’m so excited and hopeful for your future.” And that is the paradox. Both statements are completely true.
Two of my people are launching their first off to college.
One characterizes this year as “the dark night of the soul”. Another developed an ulcer over the summer. For the mamas and daddies who are eternal optimists by temperament or naturally compartmentalize your emotions, we celebrate with you that this transition doesn’t feel like suffering. Really, we do. But for all the rest of us mommies, this is a gut-wrenching, nauseating experience. And we think we’re the only one who’s ever felt this emotionally flattened. And we tend to condemn ourselves because we can’t seem to pick ourselves up and brush ourselves off and be OK yesterday.
Here’s the thing, mama. I want you to know that you are not alone in this. I’m proof positive that there is a long and formidable cloud of witnesses who have journeyed this road before you and survived. Thrived even. And we are cheering you on.
I know, you’re looking at the calendar, counting down the days. Wondering how you’ll make it through….
Remember when you were nine months pregnant with that same kid? You didn’t know how you’d survive childbirth either, but you also knew there was no choice but to pull down your big girl panties and somehow deliver a baby. And you did.
You weren’t sure how you’d live with a little person 24/7, but you did.
And now that little person’s turned big and you’re not sure how you’ll live in the daily without them either, but you will.
Remember that classic story about the family who goes on a bear hunt. I know it by heart and so do you. “Going on a bear hunt, Going to catch a big one, What a beautiful day! We’re not scared. Uh-oh, grass… a river… mud… a forest… a snowstorm… You can’t go under it. You can’t go over it. You’ve got to go through it.” And that is the cold hard reality about launching our children: There is no other way than through it.