A Home Without Her

college-bound daughters dreams emptynest girl scout camp goals homemaking motherhood mothers and daughters parenting planning Aug 07, 2019
It didn’t feel right, but I pushed you anyway. The anxiousness, the excitement, the nervousness on your face told me my feelings about this were wrong. Everything about what was happening felt all too fast for me, but for you, it was just on time. My preparations seemed to keep things just slow enough that I wouldn’t miss more moments than I felt I had already lost. Something as simple as showing you how to roll your clothing into your suitcase was just enough for me to enjoy your laughter, your smile a little slower than was normal most days. Days that have passed. Days that have gone too fast.
You didn’t seem phased by my determination for slowness because I know you hugged me a little longer, you gave into me helping you make your bed when I knew you could do it on your own. You gave me tasks to help you get organized, so I could linger a little longer before it was time for me to walk away and leave you like I’ve done so many summers before leaving you in front of a bunk. You joked just enough to not be too snarky to hurt my feelings. You reminded me you were excited just enough to push down my anxiety. You turned away first knowing I couldn’t. You took the first step away knowing it’s what I wanted for you even if it felt like my heart was going to explode with the thought of more distance between us than what used to be you and me. I knew these steps were different than before.
Like your first day leaving my side, you broke free without much hesitation. You stepped into the unknown like you always have. Like I have always taught you. A little scared, a little out of breath, wide-eyed but focused. Determined to find another piece of yourself. This time was different, the surprise of it hit me like a wall of wind after an evening thunderstorm. Bittersweet. It felt like your step was a little bit further than could be filled again by rejoining in my embrace; like we had done many times before. This time it felt more like your choice, not mine. Not me guiding you to take one small step forward and you looking back knowing I’d be there to catch you. You no longer needed me to pick you up. You know how to dust your knees off and get back up all on your own now.
As the days passed, we would think about how you were doing. As you were learning how to be out there in the world, we were learning how to be here in this one without you. Corners that used to seem brightly lit now didn’t have glimpses of a smile being illuminated by a backlit screen. A giggle wasn’t found unless there were visitors who’s chorus was similar to yours. No slight hums from a tune only heard in your ears, not ours. All these small, seemingly unnoticeable moments that filled our four walls when you are here now danced across my memory reminding me they were missing. Reminding me it wouldn’t be long until they were missing for good.
A home without you fills me with accomplishment, and yet, there is this unchecked horror that I can only explain as the reason mothers never sleep fully after childbirth. Our third ear is listening for our children to need to come home. Without you, our home is missing a gear, the one who started the watch to tick. The gear that brings the home what only a little girl or young woman can, it tells us the time through joy. A joy we’ve been so astoundingly in awe to witness in you.
I know this time away is only the first small step to larger leaps away from what you will eventually take from us. This momentum will only get faster. The glimpses of you absorbing a different world from behind the pages of a book or the laughter flying up the stairway to my room of sibling “discussions” are soon at an end. The days of seeing the thrill of a future adventure through your eyes will be moments others see and they will dazzle in your masterpiece of how the world works. And oh sweet girl, I thank you. I thank you for the spirited energy you have filled within these four walls. Within our hearts. I know that same spirit will venture forward, and overtake the worlds you journey to with the same joy and zest, just like the one you adventured through this summer. 
We raise our children to be independent. To make their dreams come true. This summer was a reminder to me that what we teach our children is possible for them, they will do. They will fly. Eventually all on their own. All we can do sit back, hold our wings tightly enough so as to not fly after them when we know they already know their way.

This letter is to my daughter. We have raised her to be brave and bold and to let her determined spirit shine so bright like the day she was born. This summer she attended Girl Scout Camp to become a counselor’s aide so that as she adventures towards her future she would have a sisterhood & summer job while off at college. For seven weeks she has been away, with very few moments home. Enough to pack, sleep, and return again to the vastness of the outdoors and her future. I had not prepared myself, nor had my husband or had our son been prepared for the emptiness that came with her vacancy. We filled it with remodeling her room, many slapstick movie nights (too many for moms liking), and many mundane days without her smile and snark. Too many days of while she was away, I realized that at her age we have limited ones left to fill our four walls with the gift of this child, mentor, sister, and friend. 

For a moment, I thought this summer was all to make sure she was prepared to fly when the time came. When in truth, it was all to prepare me for a day I’d stay behind and let her fly on her own and have a home without her.

To all the Mamas who’s baby birds have flown the nest to college this month. I wrap you in hugs and love sweet Mama. You did good. You taught them to fly. I’ll hold your wings if you hold mine.

As a Purpose & Planning Coach for Moms, I empower women to find in themselves the strengths to empower themselves to learn the skills on how they can live a life that is more than mediocre. In motherhood, but first for themselves. As seasons change so must our ambition, will, and determination to be more for ourselves; so that their children and the world can see they can be more than what is seen behind the titles they hold. So that their full potential can be given to the world. 

In all your seasons Mama, you have the ability to be more.