My kids have gone to lots of first days of school over the past fifteen years. In those years none of these days were too emotional for me. I was happy to have my children out of the house for part of the day. They were learning a couple things, and getting some much needed social time with people their age. They were figuring out how to navigate relationships. It seemed like the right progression.
Thankfully I had little enough foresight to get caught up in the eventualities of this process. Year-by-year I’d send my children out into the community schools. They’d come back every day. That was that. No need to think about the future slowly creeping up on me.
Some might call this lack of foresight a lack of empathy. Though in this case it would be a lack of self-empathy, and I think by definition self-empathy cannot actually be a thing. In any case, I spent little time imagining myself in the shoes of my future self, and boy did this save me a lot of pain.
Last week I dropped my eldest daughter off at college. This is a whole different category of first days of school. It was incredibly emotional leading up to her departure. She had feelings of excitement and nervousness. She could anticipate the homesickness as well. Her parents and her siblings had feelings mostly of the more selfish variety: we were going to miss her terribly.
Logically we all knew that it was time for her to take this next step. Logically we knew that this wasn’t the end of anything, but just a continuation of our story together. Logic doesn’t soothe the ache of missing each other, though, at least not in the days around the moment. We all ignored logic and allowed ourselves to experience that pain.
As I write this it has been five days since dropping off my eldest daughter at college. We have rearranged bedrooms. She has decorated her dorm room to make it feel like an inspiring home. Today she attends her first classes and starts to get an inkling of what is ahead of her these next four years. We’re all learning to live this new phase of life.
I still miss her deeply. Yet logic has returned to its seat in my mind. It tells me that this is a natural progression. It reminds me that we will still see each other frequently. It repeats to me: “Your job as a parent is to get them prepared to go out into the world.” It is excited to hear all the stories of her new experiences. It assures me that I will hear about the lives she touches and feel like I also touched those lives a little through her.
Having a strong relationship with your children is something I will always encourage. Yet be prepared. If you are fortunate enough to enjoy spending time with your children as they grow older, naturally the departure from them will be that much more difficult. Let logic have a place in your mind. Let emotion overtake it for a time. And in the months leading up to that moment, try not to let future worry get in the way of present experience.
This month I also wrote about some other things:
I also started a travelogue for our July trip to southern Utah. So far I’ve written about the first three days.
I’ve spent a lot of time in my life learning about saving, finance, and investing. That doesn’t mean I taught my kids any of this. I’ve felt bad about it until I found this article by JL Collins. Now I have a plan for discussion when they go off to college and careers.
Found myself in a strange place tonight.
Confession: I’m a life-long Minnesotan and a rock & roll fan, but I’ve never really listened to The Replacements. I’ve only listened to everyone they’ve influenced. Time to at least get familiar with their catalog.
This response to “Quiet Quitting” is delicious.
Bosses want to be religious leaders rather than actual leaders. Managers want to be productivity cops, ever-vigilant of anyone failing to contribute to the company while avoiding every reflective surface.
Heh. Ran into old school Book-A-Minute and Movie-A-Minute. Reminds me of a project I tried way back in the early 2000s. I called it Flicksticks, and it used the only drawing I could pull off: stick figures. Freaky Friday:
Some links I found interesting:
Click through for more ephemera.