As time passes we enter new seasons in life. As we grow older things change, not only within us but around us. I’m entering a new season today. I suppose this season started a year ago when my oldest turned 18. I entered the season of being a mother to an adult child. However, this milestone has finally become a reality with my daughter leaving home.
Tomorrow she boards a flight with the military. After six years between Junior Cadet Corps and JROTC, it is no surprise that she has chosen a career with the military. She joined the United States Army National Guard with an eight year contract in June. She has been training monthly at a local military base and is now leaving for six months.
I was a very young mom. I hate to say that we grew up together, but facts are I did a lot of maturing and growing after she was born. For first-time parents of all ages I think that is the case, but when being a teen mom it often rings more true. We grew to be best friends. Although, if you ask T she will tell you I was a firm mom first, best friend second.
If you know us well you can count out the many differences between us. We have even joked over the years at how much we aren’t alike. However, there are many things that we have shared that will now be a temporary void in my life.
Over the years we have shared our love of reading and even swapped some of the same novels. Weekly we watch our favorite television shows and chat about the characters. We love the same movies and have gone as far as hosting viewing parties and attending conventions. Our love of travel has led us around the world together for weeks at a time. As a former single mom for ten years we have spent many days just the two of us.
I cannot say what a normal mother/daughter relationship should be like, or if there truly is a thing called normal. Every person is so different. I can say that I did my best to raise her, nurture her, prepare her for the world, guide her and always stand in her corner. But I can also say that I did not spend the last 19 years planning for her leaving.
I am not prepared.
I am trying to be ready. I am doing a good job at faking it. I am genuine in my encouragement for her and how proud I am of her. I am just. not. ready. How do you prepare for your best friend to leave? How do you prepare to say good-bye to someone that has lived along side of you for 19 years?
Most teens count down the days until they turn 18 and can move out. My middle child likes to remind me regularly that she is only four years shy of that now. Some parents, although they love their kids dearly, dream of becoming empty-nesters so they can spend quality time with their spouse upon retirement. Neither has ever been the case for T or me.
Even though she is coming back in six months to attend college and participate in ROTC while being in the military, our dynamic has changed. She has grown and she is now her own. I should be feeling a sense of pride knowing she is mature enough to survive on her own. People say “she will always need you, a mother’s job is never done”. While that may be true, pride isn’t the main emotion I feel right now. Right now I’m going to take a little time to embrace my sadness. I already miss her and she hasn’t even left yet.
I have been struggling with accepting this new season in my life. I tease T and say I am not considering her an adult until she turns 21. I only say that for my own comfort and avoidance. When I drop her off tomorrow and hug her good-bye, I suppose I finally have to accept it.
I feel a little lost.