1. Bring tissue. One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, besides birthing my kids, is letting them go. It isn’t easy to cut the cord on 18 years of work, sweat and love. I cried the hour long drive to the airport and had to take myself out of the security line three separate times because I was such a blubbering idiot and I was afraid the people around me, on top of being scarred for life, were going to call security. It’s ok to cry. It hurts more than a little. I call it sorjoy, a combination of sorrow and joy. However, do your best to save the big tears for after you drive off. No matter how brave they act, they are petrified, and they need your strength.
2. The goodbye moment is awkward. Don’t expect the big goodbye to be filled with birds singing and everyone hugging and Adele’s, Make You Feel My Love, playing in the background. It’s the exact opposite of that. Everyone is a mess. They are scared but don’t want you to know that. They are TERRIFIED you are going to sob uncontrollably and want to just hug you and push you out the door so it can all be over and they can get started on their new life. I swore I wouldn’t cry. The final image Keenan had of me was me doing the call me symbol with my pinky and thumb up to my ear while gasping for air as the tears puddled down my face. It was UGLY. When it’s time to say goodbye, do it quick and then RUN. Do NOT look back. The saddest moment ever in my life was watching him walk away.
3. They are ready. The hardest part is wondering how they will do. Will they be sad? Yes. Will they feel lonely? Yes. Will there be hardships? Yes. Will they miss you so much at times it hurts? Yes. For 18 years we have protected them from as much pain as possible. As much as we would love to continue the trend, it’s time for them to lick their own wounds, find their strength outside of us and become the adults we have parented them to be. They will and you will be so very proud of them and yourself for parenting them in a way that allowed them to do it.
4. Get them to respond. They get busy, and they are doing this whole becoming their own individual without mom and dad thing, so calling you is not a top priority. It shouldn’t be. That said, when you’ve had enough, and you are in desperate need of hearing their voice instead of seeing their texts, text them this: “I’m having trouble transferring money into your account. Give me a call when you have a second.” Your phone will ring faster than they can type “send cash”.
5. Gaining an appreciation. Those pesky teenage years nearly did us parents in. We felt about as appreciated as a post-it note with no sticky on it’s back. Learning to budget, eating crappy food and doing their own laundry (hopefully more than twice a year) will help them gain a healthy appreciation for all that we do and did. Gratitude will be their middle name. At least for the first couple of weeks after they return every summer. Then they revert back to being a todleen, a combination of a teen and a toddler. Enjoy it while it lasts!
6. It’s over before you know it. Rejoice in the knowledge that it goes by so fast. Truly I can’t believe in two weeks my son will be leaving for his senior year. I feel like it was just a month ago that I scarred all of those poor people in the security line. Now he is threatening to move back in with us in less than a year. Be careful what you wish for.
You and they can do this! It hurts like a mofo, but you will all get through it!