We’re here. It’s the morning after we’ve moved Becca into her dorm -- the first time she’s left home -- and my head is filled with what that means to her and what it was like for me 40 years ago when I did the same thing.
She’s a little nervous, understandably, but so ready to take this next big step into what her life will become after childhood; she’s thoughtful and excited about what choices she gets to make. I, on the other hand, had no beginning jitters that I can remember, which doesn’t seem possible as I watch both of my daughters prepare, but I think it was true. There had to be some apprehension about taking such a big step – leaving home to go to school in a city I didn’t know (I grew up outside Manhattan and I was going to school in Philadelphia) – but I think it was minimal and plays no part in my memories.
For me, it was all excitement about what was to come. I was, perhaps, more ready to leave. I grew up going into New York on a regular basis, raised by a mother who revered the city and who constantly encouraged me to want what that city could offer. My daughters have lived their early lives in a small, idyllic and somewhat parochial town by the ocean. But despite their apprehension, I think they are both ready for more. Like my mother I have encouraged them to look beyond our small town, lovely as it is. They have so much to offer. They will thrive out in the larger world.
My nervousness comes now, as I face life without children in my house on a day-to-day basis. I have put being a mother first - sometimes imperfectly, but always most importantly -- for 30 years. My son was born in 1982 and my girls in 1993. Parenting has been my favorite and hardest job. I know it never ends. I will always worry if they’re alright, even if they are 30 or older, but it will no longer be my daily job. I have been concerned about what comes next for me. For the first time in 30 years, I get to be that girl again, that girl on the threshold, full of excitement about what is to come.