Today, my youngest left for college and I wasn’t there to see her off. As I’ve talked about in other posts, I recently moved from Chicago to Arizona. My daughter and I had planned to move together, and she would attend college out here. At the last minute, she decided she would attend her first year in Illinois and then move out here after the school year. As sad as I was about that decision, I completely supported her in it, and only want her to be happy with her choices.
With a new job and the financial strain of having just moved across country, I was unable to manage a trip back to Illinois to see her off to school. I have been devastated about this, and it has caused me to feel a tremendous amount of guilt. What kind of a mother can’t find a way to be there for her daughter at such an exciting and life-changing time in her life?
Although Megan had her father with her for her move, I still feel as though she needed her mom. Here I am in Arizona, with a job I love and a life I love… but I missed out on one of the most important events in my daughter’s life. I told my daughter that I would probably only be able to swing one trip back this fall… so it would have to be either move in day or parent weekend. She said she would prefer that I come for parent weekend. But ugh… the damn guilt is eating me alive.
So proud I am of her. What a beautiful, generous, intelligent, and savvy young woman she has become! She is growing up and making adult choices for herself, and I see her as being smart way beyond her years. When I shared my feelings of guilt at not being there, a good friend offered some terrific advice. These were the words she said to me, which offered tremendous comfort:
“Remember, Patti. Your daughter is capable and brave, and it is an honor for you to witness the new ways she is expanding her life that are fully in line with the natural order of things. You may not be there with her today, but you can find new and meaningful ways to show her love and support.”
So to my beautiful daughter, I say:
“Megan, I love you more than I can ever fully express through words, but of course, I will try! 🙂 You are the light of my life. You inspire me with your passion for life, your love of others, and your compassion for the students you’ve worked with over the last four years. What an amazing special education teacher I know you will be. Lives will be forever changed for the better because of you… trust me on this. You have a sense of self-respect that is admirable. You make me (and everyone you meet) laugh uncontrollably… especially when your chin quivers and your eyes tear up while your gut aches from laughing.
You love and respect your big brother, and I know that the two of you will always have each other’s backs… long after your father and I are gone… I take a great deal of comfort in that. I have not always been the best mother, but you loved and supported me through both the good and the bad times. I have gradually witnessed you grow from the sweet little chubby cheeked child, into a tall, beautiful young woman who carries herself with amazing grace. I love that you have my eyes… they are identical to mine and I love that we share that trait.
And so it begins, my sweet girl. May your college experience be filled with wonderful adventures, many lifelong friends, and a world experience that you will treasure for the rest of your life. Enjoy every single moment! I will be with you, in your heart and always right here, every step of the way.
I love you forever, I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be. (Robert Munsch)