I wrote this after my daughter had been away for one week. I needed to document it for me, and for her.
My daughter has been away at college for one week.
We had a miserable summer and a rough senior year of high school. In her last year of high school she exerted her independence. She was the last child at home; her brother was far away in his freshman year of college. It was just the two of us; two women in the same house. We were friends, roommates, partners in crime. We cooked together, ran errands, went out for dinner. We also fought, argued, and avoided each other.
I’m a busy single woman working a full time, running a business, and last year was in school working toward advancing my Health Coaching business. My daughter managed herself, being the independent young woman she is. She handled all of her college applications on her own. She also was equally busy holding down a job, dancing in high school, and participating on committees. Then she turned around and told me I wasn’t a mother to her because I was never around.
She attended two proms, and graduated. Then came summer freedom. When she wasn’t working she was attending parties and hanging out with her friends. She had a fun summer – full of all the things young high school graduates are supposed to experience before going off to college and hunkering down to adult life.
Meanwhile, I was living my life and doing what I could to prepare her for college, as well as her brother who would be attending his second year of college at a school over 6 hours away. I knew to expect some of these behaviors because her brother did the same thing during his senior year of high school and the summer before college. He was free and independent and rarely stayed home.
These young people go out at 10 or 11:00 p.m. They are 18 and have no legal curfew. I could impose a curfew; however, I was busy and tired. My “rules” were be smart and don’t wake me up.
And for the most part they didn’t’. They never got in any sort of trouble and rarely woke me up.
I would rise early for work and find my kitchen a disaster from the middle of the night cooking that took place.
When my daughter and I were together I was yelling at her – clean up after yourself, clean your room, you have to pack, you have to shop for college, you have paperwork to complete for college. Her response was to leave and spend the night at her girlfriend’s house. I know I could have set rules and made her come home. However, I know from experience that enforcing those rules is hard; she’s 18 and imposing them would punish me.
So I let her have her freedom, knowing serenity would come when she was leaving August 24 for college, as well as her brother, and I would have my house back. No shoes and purses in the living room, no makeup in the bathroom, no hair in the shower, no dirty dishes in the kitchen, no nagging.
Here I am one week later. My house is clean and quiet. I’ve started cleaning up her room of the dust and garbage and laundry she left behind. And I am sad. I had no idea this change would leave me with so many emotions. I knew the quiet would come; friends would stop coming over and I was embracing that, ready for the next phase of my life.
She has called or texted every day. I know she’s doing well and not struggling. I’m enjoying finding my house exactly the same as I left it, sometimes.
It’s been four weeks now and we are settling in to our routines. I no longer hear from my daughter every day and I know she is doing well. She’s loving college, making friends and working hard, and I am also. I knew it would get easier. I look forward to the adult relationship we will have and I’m looking forward to visiting her for family weekend. She’s close enough that we could see each other often. We choose not to do that. I’ve never been a hover mom and she has never needed me to hover. When I have she quickly told me to back off.
This time in my daughter’s life is necessary for her to grow and fly. I gave her wings and now she flies. I hear from her once or twice a week which works for me. It’s enough for me to know she’s ok and if she needs me I’m a text, call, or FaceTime away. Technology makes checking in much easier!
What does any of this have to do with Health Coaching – nothing and everything. It is life and living full and taking care of yourself and your loved ones. She’s eating well and exercising. My years of inspiring healthy eating are showing up in her food choices. This week she texted me to ask if a Nature’s Valley Bars are healthy. (I’ll post my answer another time.)
Change is inevitable, whether you are looking forward to change or fearful. We can embrace it or avoid it. Change usually involves other people. Their response may be a factor in our response; or vice versa. Change gets better with time and a new normal becomes routine.
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