I’m not sorry at all to see 2009 go, except maybe for the fact that I’m another year closer to 2016, the year I’ve been dreading for the past twelve. 2016 will be my year of letting go…the year I will wake up and get ready for work in a quiet house…the year I will get in my car at a college full of frat boys and leave my baby girl behind. I begin to wonder how my parents felt when they drove away from Palm Beach Atlantic College in 1993. For me it was a little scary, but mostly exciting. For them, it was probably the greatest performance of their lives when they smiled and waved goodbye as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
There is more acting involved in parenting than I ever realized. It starts when your kids get old enough to stretch their independence and take their first tumble off the couch and hit their head, and instead of peeing yourself and crying you keep your poker face on. You tell them they’re alright even though you’re not sure and you secretly watch to make sure they still have a grip on their fine motor skills. Then of course, the first day of kindergarten rolls around and we all know you should win an Oscar for your performance there. You don’t cry until later, when you’re ordering a macchiato or explaining a project to your boss.
It goes on for years, even when your child is an adult. You hand her off in marriage to someone you really feel like shooting, and you smile through your tears to tell her it’s really ok. Then she has her own children and somewhere between her toddler smashing his fingers in the car door and sending her daughter to her first sleepover, the epiphany will come. Your dirty little secret will be out, and she’ll be grateful you had the strength to let go and to do it well even if you had to fake your way through it.
You can't study human development without seeing that we have been designed by an intentinal Creator who knew what He was doing. The push and pull between parents and kids is a dance that has happened in every household through the ages. Without kids pushing us for independance it would be so much harder to let them go. Without us pulling them back when they stray too far they would not be safe. I remind myself of the naturalness of this often when little by little I let Lydia gain more independance from me. My guess it that by 2016 I will be much more prepared for leaving her at college than I am right now, and that maybe I won't have to fake my happiness as much as I think I'll have to right now. Only time will tell.