We have had an adventurous summer and now things are coming together for a memorable fall. As a parent of many I am always amazed at the different levels of maturing a child goes through until the day he/she leaves the nest. Some mature early and then put the brakes on for the leaving. Others we pray for constantly and then suddenly they leave and soar with the best of them. Some are middle of the road with the maturing process and with the leaving process. It is all a unique blend of ready, not ready, conquer the world, move back home, “I am Sparta,” and “I’m not sure I am ready.”
Today, my number six will leave the nest. She has been talking about this day since graduation in May. On Monday she watched Netflix and assured me that she would be ready on Friday. On Tuesday, she looked at her “to do” list and watched more Netflix. On Wednesday she washed and packed and cleaned her room and bathroom then stayed up all night fidgety and watching Netflix. On Thursday she made plans, repacked a few things and watched more Netflix.
We had a tiff a few weeks ago, about getting things done and on time. I told her that the first thing I was going to do when she left was change the Netflix password so she could concentrate on her classes and meeting new friends. I had to revive her with smelling salts. And then, when I thought it through, I realized that she would just use someone else’s login and password once she got to school so like a good mother I reversed my proclamation. Now, I am back to worried again.
We all worry when they first leave the nest. Perhaps I worry because I have taught freshmen in college for so many years. I have watched them come in all bright eyed and bushytailed and then drag in three weeks later exhausted and crying from too much excess in several areas. And I have tried my best to get that information across to my number six. I am sure she will be much relieved to have a roommate her age rather than a mother face her each morning.
I don’t believe that the roommate will wake her up early with admonitions to “Drink more water, treat school like a full time job, don’t eat so much sugar, watch your money, and get some sleep.” I am absolutely certain that her new roommate will not say, “Get off Netflix and get your work done!” She will probably watch with her! And so, I will not change the Netflix password on Saturday because I don’t believe it will make a difference.
What I believe will make a difference is all the times I took her to band and tennis and church camp and allowed her to be on her own. All the times I took her to missionary training and tennis and work and allowed her to learn her own lessons. And all the times I listened to her cry over a breakup or a bad grade. I believe the difference will come from the times I handed her my debit card and expected her to run to the store to pick up things for me or to fill my car with gas and go on to the school to pick up the other kids. I believe all the times I let her make her own mistakes and own up to the consequences will make a difference in her college life and in her after college life.
Whether they are going off to college or just leaving the nest, we parents have to believe we did the best we could. No, I couldn’t buy all the things she wanted along the way. And I certainly did not back off every time she thought I should. I was probably too pushy in some areas and not tough enough in others. But no matter what, this little number six knows that I love her dearly and that I woke up each morning and did the best that I could for her and the rest of the herd.
Maybe that is enough. Maybe it is not.
And I will cry some, but some of the tears will be for joy and thankfulness that I had 18 years getting to teach this beautiful child how to make wise decisions and be kind and give grace where necessary. The rest is up to her.
Sounds so easy.
BUT we all know I will be anxiously waiting for that first call home. She may have left the nest but I am maintaining my Number One Advisor position until further notice.