REM entitled one of their albums "Life's Rich Pageant" and, around our household, it's been a catchall phrase for the ups and downs of life. The day-to-day, everyday trials and tribulations that are all part of existence for good or for bad. Moving my daughter across the country to go to college would fit within that description, it is part of the life experience. I know it's not a tragedy in the true sense of the word and I know millions of parents do it every year. Heck, I did it three years ago with my son. But this was different. This was my daughter, my youngest, a truly terrific young lady, and letting go of her is without question the hardest thing I ever had to do.
Tears are welling as I type this and have come on and off throughout today. I know eventually I'll be able to think of her away without choking up. That's what I hear, anyway. But it's the first day home to that tired, old cliche, the empty nest. But it's not really the home that's empty, but my heart. I left it on the other coast -- I have no need for it over here. Occasionally you hear people talk about how freeing it will be without the kids at home, how they can do whatever they want whenever they want. I don't want to be free. I like being a mom and all that goes with it. I like being on-call around the clock. I like my kids and I like spending time with them. They're not an inconvenience, they're the reason I'm here. I want someone to need a button sewn or a sandwich made or a spider to kill (okay, I can do without that one, but if my husband's at work, I will do my best). I want to watch whatever video they want to show me or listen to whatever song they want me to hear or just sit on the same couch each doing our own thing.
When my oldest was graduating, the song that I picked for him was Find the River by REM. The line from that song, "I have got to leave to find my way," seemed fitting. Especially for him, moving out and going away did seem like the right thing to do. I missed him like crazy and it hurt (frankly, it still does), but I could see it as an import life passage. I guess it's a compliment to my daughter that I didn't feel she had to "leave to find her way." The song I picked for her was Wonder by Natalie Merchant. It's a celebration of women, and there is no doubt about the future of the woman in this song, from the simple declaration: "She'll make her way." The woman in this song is "able" and "gifted," she doesn't have to go anywhere to be the wonder that she is.
Find the River
I'm not ready to put a positive spin on any of this. It's just sad and lonely and, yes, empty. She has been the light that shined in my life since the minute she was born. She is who I want to be when I grow up. Everyone who gets to meet her over the next four years should come and thank me for letting her go (not that I could have stopped her had I tried!) because you are getting a gift. My home is empty, like my heart, but the world is a better, fuller place because she is out there.