Saturday, November 12, 2005

Counting Down

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.


Jill said...

Dawno - if I had the time, I swear I'd post comments on all of your posts since I last commented! Sheesh.

But I'll leave it to his one: you are one strong mommy. Good luck. You have such a clear vision. I really envy you for that.

Btw, hubby and I are very likely going to be visiting San Fran next fall so I'll keep ya posted!

Dawno said...

OOOH *squeeeee!* I can't wait - I hope we can at least find time for coffee - dinner would be even better!

Thank you for saying you think I'm a strong mom - after reading about you and your son, well lets just say that coming from you, any compliment about mothering is even more precious.

Mac said...

Dawno, you sound like a terrific parent. :) It'll be okay.

I'm stunned when I think about what our parents (not to mention their parents) did, at ages that seem barely post-pubescent.

Paprikapink said...

Hi Dawno!

Your daughter is lucky to have a mom like you, and I'll bet she knows it too. Now is a good time for a word that means the same as bittersweet, but isn't that exact word, because it's not exactly bitter, it's just, gee, what is the word for having things turn out exactly like you've hoped and planned and being happy about it, but also feeling, not sorrow, but something somewhat rueful, for the end, or at least enormous change, of that job of making things turn out this way, a job that's brought you so much joy and other really intense emotions that you'd never have imagined you could feel if you hadn't been through this? You'd think there'd be word for that feeling. It's right on the tip of my tongue.

Seems like a good time to bust a champagne bottle on the hull of something.

Dawno said...

Paprikapink! Nice to see you here. Maybe I'll bust a bottle of budget grocery store champagne on the Pensky one way rental truck (yes, I'm boycotting U-Know-What)when they are ready to leave.

Your description of how I feel is, if not pithy, completely accurate.

Thumper said...

It gets easier the longer they're gone...and then they move back in, dammit ;)'s not as hard as it seems like it will be. My perspective is a little skewed because *WE* moved 2,000 miles away and left the Boy here on his own for 2 years. Other than it feeling a little weird, it wasn't too bad. I missed our late chats about stupid stuff, but that's what phones are for.

I think my mom would really love to have that empty nest feeling...seeing as how my sister is like 48 and still living "at home."

Remember my sister, and you'll feel great about the kids growing up and moving out!

Patricia said...


Been there, done that one. Kids moving out within state is difficult and I bore it well. But when the boys moved out of state, I had to fight the temptation to beg them not to. Reminding myself they had a life to live.

Believe it or not, it does become normal after awhile, and "empty nest syndrome" becomes just another syndrome we've survived in our lifetime as a woman.

Dawno said...

Mac, I didn't acknowledge your post earlier, I'm sorry - it's probably true what you say about our parents and their adolescence - mine didn't share much about it so I'm not sure what they were up to - and probably it's been better that way. :-)

Thumper, my son is probably a good candidate for moving back home. I've been wondering whether moving and living "off the grid" is an option...

Lady, it's wonderful to see you here, thanks for commenting - I believe that someday I'll look back and have perspective, it's pretty hard right now. I think the fact that my daughter is stressed and trying hard not to be has added an extra level of anxiety because I don't want to be adding any tension to her life.

It's wonderful to have everyone's support, thank you.

emeraldcite said...

I agree paprika. She's lucky.

My daughter is only 6 going on 18, or so she believes.

I'm not looking forward to when she leaves, but we just hope to make sure she's capable of making good, sound decisions.

It'll be rough at first, but you'll probably find that your relationship will grow even more now that she's out on her own.

Good luck with the move. I hate moving. Got some horror stories for you, but they'll be better told after you're done...

Patricia said...


I wanted to add to my post by saying that your daughter is lucky to have you as a mom. So many mothers today have communication problems with their kids. Glad to see yours is open.

You're a jewel--and I think potentially, our next Irma Bombeck. Hope I spelled that name right.

emeraldcite said...

Irma Bombeck!

I culturally re-memory her!

rosemerry said...

Woo-hoo. I finally figured out how to link so you are on the list.

I didn't even grow up with my mom but I lived with her for about seven years. She keeps wanting me to move back. We miss each other. I can't imagine how it's like for you and your daughter.

Why are you boycotting U-Haul? You've piqued my interest. See you around the blogosphere Dawno.