In two weeks my daughter will move. I live in the San Francisco Bay area and she is moving to the very bottom of the state. The one way moving truck is reserved. Boxes have been purchased (Home Depot is the place to go - I'm boycotting U-Haul). When she goes it's just me and the SO. I'm going to miss her - we've managed to get through the years that usually are fraught with conflict for mothers and daughters with hardly any and what little there has been was mild and short-lived.
Sometimes, lately, I just sit on the couch, petting a cat, and stare at the assemblage of Prom pictures of my daughter that are framed and sitting in the bookcase across the room. I let myself wallow in good memories for a while.
In the past few years we've assembled Prom outfits - my favorite is the one that I sewed yards of delicate pink tulle into a flowing skirt, others that we shopped for hours to find. She always looked gorgeous and glamorous. I know we're not supposed to live through our children but as someone who only went to her own Senior Prom because a dear friend took pity and drove all the way up from his out of town, post-college job to take me - it's a vicarious joy to see her dressed up and going with a handsome date. For the last two years that handsome date has been the young man she's moving away to be with.
I know that 'allowing' my 18 year old daughter to move many hundreds of miles away to live with her beau is something that some people disapprove of. I would be a terrible hypocrite, however, if I tried to stand in her way. I'm not married to the man who has raised her with me since she was four years old. How can I argue against what she's doing? And frankly, I don't think it's the wrong thing for her. This is the point where I stand up for her to live her own life. If she needs me, I'll be there for her, but I'm confident that she'll be fine. She's strong willed, self-assured, and has a ton of common sense.
Of course, I have made it clear to both of my children that under no circumstances should they ever feel uncomfortable asking me for anything. I make it clear that they have a safety net. I've had to continue educating my son that 'safety net' isn't the same as 'bottomless pocketbook' but he's starting to get the picture. My daughter, on the other hand, really wants to do it all on her own.
It won't be easy for her. Her beau is in the Navy. He could be sent on long deployments and she'll be alone during that time. She's got friends in the area, her best friend is in college near by, but she'll still have to get through those times when her sailor is out to sea. I wish she could have been closer to my mom because that woman knew what it was like to be left home while her husband was on long trips away. My dad was in the Air Force and his job often took him away for three or four months at a time. The upside for my daughter is that she won't be living in the middle of a desert and she won't have 3 kids to take care of.
So now I'm thinking about what it means to be the parent of grown children. I want to be part of their lives, but I don't want to be intrusive. I'm trying to prepare my self for the empty nest and I'm thinking it's going to be harder than anything I've ever been through.