They forgot to tell us about transitions. In fact, there are actually three things in life that are inevitable: death, taxes and change (a.k.a. transitions), not two. As our kids return to school, those inevitable’s are really clear. Disagree? Now you’re only kidding yourself. I know. I’m making you think. Ponder a few thoughts with me.
Usually, (illness aside) death isn’t pinned to a specific date — unless you’re a parent of a first-year preschooler or a high school/college freshman. Then, the date is, exact. However, unexpected are the feelings that arise.
Here’s an example. When my three-year-old first went to preschool, I was so excited to have even a small window of time to myself (2.5 hours!) regularly (twice weekly). While my husband and I stood proudly by Mrs. Ranier’s classroom door, our daughter gleefully swept in ready for the morning’s activities. She didn’t even turn to wave! Meanwhile, two other sets of parents were attempting to pry their little darlings’ hands off them. Those poor babies clung desperately to life as they’d known it for three “whole” years.
Bet you’re trying to figure out if I’m referring to the parents or the toddlers? Well, according to child psychologists, either and/or both! https://www.psychologytoday.com/conditions/separation-anxiety That’s for a different blog. Meanwhile, here’s my point: I wasn’t certain if my daughter was just very confident and ready to take on the world, or if I was the worst mother from whom she couldn’t escape fast enough! With wistful smiles, Mrs. Ranier bid us adios, and we opted to keep our adult coffee date.
I walked to my car (we drove separately so my husband could leave our date for work), closed the door, turned it on, blasted the a/c, and sobbed. Yep. That first day, she’d barely attended an introductory hour, and I sobbed as if this was forever.
The truth? I was right … and wrong. Of COURSE she hadn’t disappeared. However, the untainted and uncorrupted soul I’d known for three years was. She was, actually, entering an environment she’d be in for the next 19 years: school. You do realize those places are filled with other kids, experiences, and information outside of you, right?! We’ll cover going to college in a moment.
We pay emotional ones every time our bundles of joy walk out the door for a first anything. Sports tryouts, musical auditions, final exams, new schools. Get the idea? We aren’t experiencing them ourselves; we’ve had our turn. Our compassion meters run high — quite taxing.
Now this is important to attempt to grasp, folks: CHANGE IS INEVITABLE. It’s the one constant you can count on every single day of your life. When we headed to college with our firstborn, I was woefully unprepared for the impending parental evolution. (Remind me to take this one up with my mom!) The tsunami of feelings when we left her there was off the charts!
So, my youngest leaves our nest in just two years. Am I finally prepared? I’ll get back to you on this; I’m not there yet. The “empty nest” is regularly touted as awesome (i.e. sex in every room of the house, faraway travel, and laundry cut by at least a third).
School transitions are a challenge for all of us. Desperate to have my despair validated, I’ve looked them up. http://patch.com/new-jersey/springfield/bp–permission-to-grieve-when-your-children-go-away-to-college. My intense despondency has been mocked. “Maybe you need help through modern medicine or wine!” I’d felt more prepared for the joys than the sorrows of less responsibility; remaining teens getting their driver’s licenses (= freedom to not drive them around); and mind space to think about new things for myself. But I seemed to need permission to grieve — even just from myself! Legitimately, I was transitioning from the mom of three to two and now just one. How I’ve shepherded all these years was over!
Sure, I’m moving on, and, in the future, I may share the day we dropped each of them off at college. (I do still have one to go.) My analogy is horrifying, hilarious, and accurate. If you want me to share sooner rather than later, feel free to comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
See? Transitions are certain. The good news though? We’re not alone pondering them.