Saturday, January 27, 2007

When Your Kids Get All Growed Up..., that's not the title of Fox's latest incarnation of the 'When Animals Kill' or 'When Predators Strike' series....that, I believe, is the root of my recent malaise.

You see, my oldest daughter just took her first step of striking out on her own. A high school friend of hers had spent the past four months working at a bed and breakfast in a small mountain resort town, and called to say there was room at the inn, as it were, and asked my daughter to come join her. To work and to play. My daughter discussed it and mulled it and then agreed to go. It was quick and dirty...she basically had less than a week to get organized and packed and say her goodbyes and get out there. That was last weekend.

There are many memorable milestones for parents and our children...their first steps, their first words, their first day of school, their first game or play or concert. And then they get a little older and the milestones are represented by more adult-like events... their day of high school, their first boyfriend/girlfriend and subsequent heartbreak, their first job, and their high school graduation.

Before you know it, you're not seeing a child anymore, but a young adult...and then an adult. Your role and importance as a parent slowly becomes diminished and the opinions and attitudes of their friends takes priority. Their world doesn't revolve around you anymore, and in smaller ways, vice versa.

But the reality really hits you when they move out on their own for the first time. They may come back home for a bit, but they have arrived at that place called adulthood. And in many ways, your job as a parent is finished. One of the most important jobs we have in our lives has come to a close. And there's no fanfare or party or gold just happens and you're done. They're letting go, and it's time for you to let them go.

I find myself saying...when did this happen? And how did it happen so fast? But though you might look at your adult children and still see a kid taking their first steps or uttering their first words or scoring their first goal, they have in fact 'growed up'. All you can do is hope you raised them well and armed them with the tools to make good decisions and act and behave appropriately so they can be the best they can be.

They don't hand out a playbook with this game. I probably could've done better, but I did my best.

Be the best you can be, hon.

SONG&ARTIST? - "I stood stone-like at midnight
suspended in my masquerade
I combed my hair till it was just right
and commanded the night brigade
I was open to pain and crossed by the rain
and I walked on a crooked crutch
I strolled all alone through a fallout zone
and came out with my soul untouched
I hid in the clouded wrath of the crowd
but when they said "Sit down" I stood up.
Ooh-ooh growin' up..."


CAROLINE said...

Aw, poor Poppa Bear. Now we understand.

It's hard, I know .. I'm not a parent, but I am a daughter and know how my dad was with me, right up until he died (which ironically enough was four years ago today, which is maybe why I'm really feeling for you, Will).

She knows no one's ever gonna be good enough for her in your eyes, and that if you could, you'd keep her at home forever. She'll always be little to you, even though you see the fine young woman she's become. She'll always be your princess, your baby. The suddenness of the move has no doubt left you a little woozy.

Trust in yourself. You are without a doubt one of the most dedicated dads I know. If I know it, you can be sure as hell that she does, too. She'll make mistakes, we all do, but the biggest gift you've given her is the faith in herself to go out there and try it on her own in the big world. That gift is all the more precious because it came wrapped in the silver lining of knowing that if things go pear-shaped, you'll always welcome her back with open arms.

Consider it a job well done, Daddy-oh. But there's three more to go, so don't rest on your laurels.

PS In about two weeks, she'll really love getting a care package from dad. Nothing special, just a a few treats from home and maybe something she didn't take from her room that might fit where she is ... just enough to remind her how much she's loved. Not that I needed to tell you this, I know you're on it.

Far away said...

Nice post WC.

My daughter is only 4 (and a half) but she was packing her suitcase last week..

Good Dog said...

When they've got to go, they've got to go. Hopefully they go with your blessing and love.

Although I was in the odd position of having my parents leave home before I did. Very strange.