Why should I leave, when I already have everything I want right here?
My youngest daughter posed the above question to me, after returning home from saying good-bye to a friend. They both are leaving for their first year of college soon, and so begins my daughter’s farewell tour of sorts. This was the first of many good-byes and the start of many lasts with her friends and our family.
As the reality of this milestone sets in, so do the usual first year jitters and fears, for both of us. While I remember second-guessing my own decision to go away to college and the sadness of saying good-bye to my friends and family and have experienced my oldest daughter leaving home to attend college, I still feel woefully unprepared for this. This time is different. This time, I will be an empty nester, with an emphasis on the word empty.
When my daughter asked her rhetorical question, I still felt compelled to try to answer it. Overall, I said all of the right things, but it didn’t feel quite right. The more I thought about her question, I realized that I did not adequately answer her question.
The answer did not come to me easily in the moment, partly because I did not want to put my grief on full display, for fear of upsetting her more. I cry easily, so, this was a monumental task to hold back the tears, but I did. Barely. The other part is that I needed time to gather my thoughts. So, this is what I wish that I could have, and would have, said at the time that this question was asked. This is my open response to my youngest daughter.
When you asked me, why you should leave, when you already have everything you want right here, what I initially wanted to say was that you were right and should stay here. I had a flashback to when you were a little girl and used to tell me that you would never leave me and planned on living with me forever. That pronouncement used to make me laugh, and I would tell you that some day you would change your mind and want to leave. Some day is now upon us. Even though I have had 18 years to prepare, truth be told, no amount of time could ever fully prepare me for the day when you and your sister would both go off to college.
So, here’s why you should leave, even though you already have everything you want here. . .
If you stayed here, though, it still wouldn’t be the same. Your friends are all headed off the college, your high school days are behind you, and your sister is returning to college. Even though you are still here right now, the changes already are underway, and more are on the way.
Staying here would be the easiest thing to do, but the easiest thing is not always the best thing. Change, even a positive one like starting college, can be scary and anxiety provoking. Think about all of the changes, both challenging and rewarding, that you have faced, and remember that you have a perfect track record in navigating every single one of them. My money is on you to handle this, every other change that comes your way, as well. This experience is going to cause you to grow in ways that you cannot yet imagine. You can do this, and when you feel like you can’t, you have your family, friends, and faith to lean on for support.
In an ideal world, I would be able to somehow simultaneously let you go off to college and keep you here with me. This is the real world, though, and not letting you go would be selfish of me. As much as I loved my college experience, going with you definitely is not an option, either, so, you can breathe a sigh of relief! There’s an entire world that awaits you, and it also needs what you have to offer it. This requires you to expand your horizons, both literally and figuratively, and college will give you the opportunity to do both.
You may be saying good-bye to your family, friends, and the familiarity of home, but this is only a physical separation. You have lived in a number of different houses, but what made them a home were the love, the ups and downs, the day-to-day doings, the significant events, and the memories created and shared with your family and friends who love and accept you unconditionally. Our love and support go with you wherever you go, and nothing can break those bonds. Plus, spoiler alert, you are going to meet new people who will become your friends, and your heart is big enough to welcome more people into your life, alongside the friends and family you already have.
You certainly are not the only one who is feeling mixed emotions. I am really excited for you and proud of you, and I believe in you. At the same time, I have found myself shedding more tears lately, as the enormity of you and your sister leaving home has been overwhelming, and I am going to miss you both immensely. As with everything else, we will get through this together, though. You will be okay, and I will be okay. I promise.
There really is no place like home, and no matter where you and your sister go, you both always will have a home with me. Always. Although you may not feel 100% ready for this, I know that you are ready in every way. I love you all the way to the moon and back, and that’s a lot.
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story
Love this! So perfect for our daughters going off to school – one of which is very hesitant
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I am with you, my friend, and definitely understand. I hope everyone has a smooth transition, including us. XOXO ❤️
This was beautiful. Thank you for the openness of this conversation as I envisioned having this conversation with either and both of my boys. Your view of this is wise. Haha..my momma heart says to stay, and my fiercly independent soul says to Go! Neither will be easy to say, but how we honor their path, not ours, will be the light…and you will always have yours on for their return.
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My friend, what wise words and what a beautiful heart and spirit you have. I love the image of being a light for them for them to come home. Onward we go!