I have the dubious joy of sending my first-born daughter off to college, out of state, this fall. I have such mixed emotions about it. I am so proud of her and her accomplishments, she received a wonderful scholarship and will be able to attend a small, private school with very little of my money. Yet, I already feel the ache in my heart as she takes this next step toward adulthood.
When she was only nine months old, she took her very first steps, three in number, I think. But the most poignant part of the memory was that she was walking away from me. I was dumbstruck and awestruck, that these very first steps of hers were away from her mama, and all I could think at that moment was that this was just the beginning of walking away. Didn’t she know that she should have taken those steps towards me, not away from me? Her whole life has been a series of walking away, not in a mean or disrespectful fashion, but just walking away, finding her own answers to some of life’s really big questions, coming back and bouncing them off me, but then going away again to test her new thoughts and ideas out in that great big world.
She and I have a remarkable relationship and I am pretty confident that by her mid-twenties, she will consider me one of her friends, but I just wonder if there are no other mothers out there, saying good-bye to that seventeen, eighteen, or nineteen-year-old child and what those moms are feeling? How do you get through the emotions of this very first child leaving home? How do keep from clinging on to them and saying, “Don’t leave! You still need me!” How do you tell her all that you hope and wish for her as she walks into that dorm, out of your house, and so far from your home?
Somehow, some day, I think she will know this conflict I feel, and no doubt, it will be when she sends her first-born off to college. I just hope that baby’s first steps are towards his or her mama and not away!