The other day I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time when we crossed paths in the parking lot of our local big box store. I remembered that she had just dropped her second child (her daughter) off at college for her freshman year, officially joining the Empty Nester Club.
In asking her how everything went, I wasn’t surprised to hear that on the long drive home she had both happy moments and tearful moments. That’s pretty typical. Overall though, she’s fine. I was glad to hear it.
She told me that her daughter mentioned that her friends were asking if she (my friend) was “going to be okay”. As sweet as the concern was, the two of us laughed about it a little bit. As much of a loving and involved mom my friend has been, she has a full-time career and friends of her own. She has a life outside of her maternal duties, and that’s a big part of why, probably after some random tears, she’s going to be perfectly fine. It was refreshing to talk with her because she was so clear on how great this milestone is and how wonderful it is that her two kids are doing exactly what she raised them to do. Not everybody seems to take it in stride like that.
Everyone has to go through the bittersweet experience of letting their kids go in their own way, of course, but it’s okay to be okay. We can love our kids to the moon and back and still be happy to see them off. We can be excited about having time on our own, having the house to ourselves, having a calendar free of kids’ activities. It doesn’t make us bad parents. Actually, I think it teaches independence, and isn’t that the end goal of raising children, anyway? Sounds like good parenting to me.
So when you get your kids to their next milestone, alternate some happy moments with tearful moments and then call me. I’m free for lunch and it’ll be totally okay if you want to talk about our kids.