No More Pretending

I’m wallowing. I’m sad and I’m tired of pretending like I’m okay. Why do we have to pretend? I’m sick of it.

My firstborn, my baby is graduating high school this May (in about 6 weeks) and I feel like I’m drowning.

Oh, okay. I see how it is.  I’ve lost some of you already. I can tell by the sighing. Well, good riddance. I didn’t need you anyway.

For those of you that have chosen to stay, I’m tired of hearing:

“This is a part of life.”

You mean like dying and taxes?

“We all go through it.”

We all went through puberty and I don’t remember that life experience being all that great.”

“You will be fine once she leaves.”

Huh?

“It’s what you’ve been training her for her whole life.”

What? I don’t get this one. You train for a marathon, not life.

“You’ve done a great job with her, she will be fine.”

Again, what? She’s not a dog I’ve trained to win ‘Best in Show’.

I worked full-time outside the home until 2005, so I know the twisted torment of dropping off your kids to be cared for by others. That internal struggle of wanting a bigger life for myself while also wanting to do the best for my kids was a battle I fought every day. I had finally come to peace with it until Rachel entered first grade. Nothing prepared me for her first day of school.

She was so cute with her backpack, her bob haircut with bangs and her big, trusting blue eyes. The elementary stood there glaring at me – it was the very same elementary I had attended (better memories was my hope for her). We stormed through those doors with purpose looking for Mrs. Baker’s class. After a few minutes, we found it.  A little anxious for Rachel, I began to fawn over her by messing with her backpack and asking her if she was okay. Then, we found her classroom. Without pause, she looked at me and said, “Mommy, here is my class.”

And, off she went. She marched into that classroom and never looked back. She left me dangling in that hallway with my reassuring mommy wave and smile. It was wasted because she never turned around. No hugs, no kisses, no formal good-byes. She was ready and I was not.

Trying not to look devastated (I had braced myself for clinging and some drama), I gave a nod to the other parents hanging around Mrs. Baker’s door. This nod attempted to convey these thoughts:

“I meant for her to do that.”

“My parenting is clearly without equal.”

“Just look at her, she is so ready for school.”

“She will leave your kid in a dust cloud.”

I sobbed for the entire commute to my office. However, I eventually recovered and moved on because, well, I had to. She adjusted beautifully and there was really nothing I could do about it.

It seems we did a helluva job with this one because, in addition to being a mature and loving young lady, she is graduating with a 3.6 GPA and a sizeable scholarship from the college of her dreams.

Despite myself and because of my husband, we actually have raised three kids that like being near each other and have fun together. All five us eat dinner together at the table whenever humanly possible and it’s wonderful and very Cleaverish. Ray has the goofiest sense of humor, tells stories that are only funny to her and eats everything I cook no matter what. Like the front tooth that disappears from a child’s smile, she will leave big gap at the table. We don’t know how to be a family of four.

Chicago in August will be tough. When we drop her off at her at her freshman dorm, she will very likely say, ” Well, here’s my room” and confidently walk into that new life without looking back.

And, I will sob all the way home.

13 thoughts on “No More Pretending

  1. What Beth said!!!! It is a new and different albeit wonderful new chapter in your relationship with your daughter. College flies by too. It’s crazy!!!

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    • Thank you, Chris. Once I get past my grief of our old relationship, I’m sure I will enjoy our new relationship. She’s really an amazing girl and I’m so excited for her. I really can’t wait to see what she will accomplish. It’s just such a big change!

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  2. At least you have a plan. I know it’s tough but take it from someone with a 26 year old a state away, you’ll miss her but it will get easier. Enjoy your last couple of months and try not to drown in your projected sorrow. There’ll be plenty og time for that when she’s gone.

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    • It just became real for me last week when she finally picked her school and we paid the deposit. Her brother and sister will miss her terribly so it will be rough on them too (which will weigh on me a bit).

      I just need a good cry (but not in front of Ray) and then I should be able to move forward. I know that we will eventually be fine this fall once she gets underway and I know that she’s fine.

      This is the biggest family transition I’ve experienced since giving birth to my children, you know?

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      • I do. It’s really hard and yet it’s also fun to watch them grow and spread their wings. I know I’ll be weeping again in a few years when my next one goes off. Meanwhile my son is talking about going to Austrailia for a year and I’ve told him to go for it! I think it would be great for him. Me?…

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  3. Thanks for this! Don’t let anyone tell you what you’re feeling is too much or you need to get past it…Our family went from five to four and it will feel like there’s a hole. No one told me it would hurt that bad and you will cry all the way home! You are obviously a great mom and I’m here to tell you this phase in our lives does get better :).

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  4. Another good one Jen. You have a case of post-prchase dissonance: you bought this future for the kid and now you are not sure you really like it. We will probably not cry, because we have been through it eight times before, yet we will be sad and worry a lot. But as your friends say, she will be fine. She’s a great kid, helped immensely to be that by great, caring parents. I would say just relax, but I know you well enough to know you ain’t gonna.

    Love,

    Grandpa Jack

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  5. I remember those happy days when I would pick our precious baby Rachel from the sitter and we would go to Marsh for free treats (cheese & crackers). When Marsh quit doing this we switch our allegiance to Krogers. It seems it’s the little things that bring us the most joy. She is a precious young lady. Yes, I will probably shed a tear or two. I’m sure we will make a few trips to Chicago. I’m wandering, are there any Krogers in Chicago?
    Love,

    Grandpa Chuck

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  6. Hey Jenni — this part of the journey sucks (let’s be real…I still get choked up when my kids get on the school bus in the morning). Truth is, you’re mom and you’ll always be mom and so she’ll always need you. Maybe not like you want her to need you but in her own way, she’ll always need you.

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