Somebody asked me the other day if it gets easier to say goodbye to your college kids in the fall when they are a sophomore, junior or senior in college. I had to stop for a minute and think. For me the answer is a qualified, yes.
A lot of the anxiety that I experienced when each of my kids first went to school was tied to my child and the unknowns with respect to each of them. Would they like their roommate? Would they be able to handle the course load? Would they like their courses? Would they make good friends? How smoothly would move in day go? And the list of this worried parent went on and on.
After freshman year a lot of those issues are no longer applicable. The fact that each of my children has proved that they can indeed handle the college work load, get great grades, make new friends, take care of themselves, makes it easier to send them off to school. The anxiety that I first felt on letting them go has abated.
Another part of my nervousness about sending them away to school had to do with the changing dynamics of our family and me. When my oldest went off I worried about how the house would feel with one less person in it. Would it feel funny to have three of us in the house instead of four? How would it feel around the dinner table? Then when my youngest went off I worried about being an empty nester. How would I fill my time since so much of it was taken up with my kid’s schedules?
For me this part of the anxiety has certainly lessened. Although I love my role of mom, I have the time now to explore and participate in things that are just for me. And my friends who were at the same stage of life did the same. One dear friend opened up a new business. Another took pottery lessons. I threw myself into fund raising and some creative hobbies at first and then decided to create this website with two others. Each of us found ways to keep ourselves busy and create our own happiness and fulfillment separate from our identities of being a parent. Do I still love being a parent, absolutely, but the amount of time each day that it takes priority has reversed.
Of course, don’t be fooled by my new found independence. That is why I say a qualified, yes. I still get the butterflies in my stomach starting a week before they are leaving as I count down the days until their departure. But the minute they wave goodbye I am back on the computer writing and tweeting.
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