Our kids have always seemed rather independent. We’re a close family, but we haven’t experienced some of the common episodes of separation anxiety many of my friends have with their kids.
First kid, first day of kindergarten: No problem. I was flipping out a little inside….as though I was committing my kid to an institution or something. Which technically I was, but I’d done time in that slammer myself. Nothing to be afraid of. Nothing I care to think about anyway.
From our daughter’s perspective, she’d reached a mountain peak. She’d been waiting to achieve this. Being a school kid was her primary aspiration. Lunch box. Bus. Backpack. Supplies. She had arrived. And she wanted her sherpa to beat it. I was cramping her style. So I left. Knuckles dragging. Shedding a tear with another mom who had just dropped off her fourth and last kid. Same tears, different reasons.
The other kids reacted the same when their First Day came. “I’ve got this, Mom. You can go now.”
I mean, you want this, right? They’re supposed to feel confident by the time they reach these milestones. I should feel we’ve accomplished something we set out to accomplish. We’re not raising whiney babies who cling to us forever, right?
My husband feels great about it, of course. He’s more mature. Or maybe it’s because as a stay-at-home dad he knows he has more kids at home to deal with, and this is just thinning the crowd. “All good, Honey. We’re doin’ our job.”
Of course we are.
And there are many more milestones to hit.
Like the day you watch the tail lights of the car disappear as your freshly-minted 16-year-old driver pulls away for the first time. With one or two of your other precious bundles in the passenger seats. Enough to make your blood run cold.
Then there’s the date. Yikes.
The road trip. No, please.
The departure for college. Heartbreaking.
But at this point, they’re still dependents. Independent dependents, but you still have some leverage.
Well, we’ve just hit a biggy: a post-college job offer that includes health benefits. This, my friends, is the crowning achievement. Your kid is about to find out how things really work. Going a year without a vacation. Killing your own spiders. Having to do laundry because you’re out of underwear and no one in your tiny apartment cares. Figuring out what you pay for air conditioning when it’s 105 outside.
Ok. I’m starting to feel a little bit better.
Partly because I know when they come home, our efforts to provide comfort and support will be met with greater appreciation and affection.
And partly because we can say, “OK, you’ve got this. You can go now.”