One Flew out of the Engledow’s Nest

Well, we did it. We pushed Birdie #1 out of the nest. Yay, for us! We rock!

Oh, all right. It wasn’t really a push. She pretty much flew out by herself – she was ready.

That’s good, right? I mean, if she wasn’t ready then we would probably be wondering what the hell happened, reviewing where we went astray, and then coming to the conclusion that it was my husband’s fault some how (kidding).

I’m just not ready for her to be ready, you know what I mean? As parents, we spend eighteen years preparing our children to leave the house. It’s our job. Cliche alert ~ Boy, those eighteen years went by in a blink.

After hashing it out with my one of my besties, I’ve determined that I’m not actually worried about my daughter managing on her own. She’s smart, strong and amazing. It’s the fact that this is the beginning of the next chapter in our family. We add the kids, the kids leave and then it’s back to just me and the hubs (unless the kids move back in because they can’t find a job). It’s the arc of life.

It has been a slow adjustment to our family dinner table of four instead of five (It hasn’t even been a month yet. Give us a break, people!), but you know what has helped us? Technology. Love, love, love technology! Since instantaneous communication is so abundant, our daughter has been connecting with us regularly and she’s only asked for money twice!

In addition to the frequent texting, stalking her on Facebook has allowed me to see that she is making friends, having fun and adjusting to her new life. Seeing her embracing her new adventure had improved my state of mind since we left her standing in the dorm parking lot all alone (stifling a sob). Now, when people ask me how Rachel’s doing, I can answer without completely breaking down. Just don’t ask me how I’m doing. I can’t get through that one yet.

Click here to watch a short film by one of her new friends who happens to be a film major. My girl is in the striped sweater. Fun, right?

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.