Parents and recent high school graduates are having the same issue right now; something both need to remember.
Emotions are running high for many parents because they are preparing for their chicks to leave the nest. It’s a long road and letting go is epic, but it’s epic for the kids too. High school seniors are torn between the fear of leaving the nest and the glory of … well, leaving the nest.
Exciting and promising as it may be, facing the unknown is also scary. Still, the only other option is something unfortunate. So, onward we go because moving on in life is what we do. Whether we’re birds, people or corn kernels, aging begins at conception and continues until death and, just as growing old is a privilege denied to many, the ability to optimize our choices is as well. It’s a process. If we’re lucky, we get to fulfill it.
On a personal note, having gone through the process four times, my heart goes out to every parent who will be shopping for extra-long bed sheets in July and delivering a precious offspring to a mostly unknown campus environment in August. Most of us feel the same way – but, again, let’s remember that the kids are dealing with their own fear of the unknown. They just have the benefit of some level of uncurbed enthusiasm and naiveté.
While we fear for their safety in their new living situation, we also concern ourselves with the new relationships they’ll forge, meeting people who might drag them down, change them from their genuine selves, create toxicity, or knock them off-course. All our fears are real but the negative energy doesn’t do anyone any good.
So, we put on our brave face, just as we did when they learned to climb stairs, got on a school bus for the first time, and took their first class trip. We hide our fear, perhaps even sadness, and talk a good talk to give them the confidence they need to carry on with the inevitability that is life’s forward motion.
We also experience the feelings of our own parenting job coming to a close: what happens to us now? Well, Chatterbox, Jan. 12, 2012, answered that question with great laughs but it’s always worth iterating that parents are people too. We had lives before we became parents, and we’ve held on to bits of ourselves inside the vacuum of raising children. We’ll pick up where we left off with more time and greater zeal. Yes, we will, but, of course, we are parents forever … it’s the toughest job we never lose.