I remember how I felt in June 1992, the day my daughter Sara graduated from high school. On the outside, my face beamed with pride, but on the inside, my heart ached with sentimentality. I knew that we had only one more summer left before she left for college. Although Sara’s attending a university had been our family goal, that hot graduation day, I knew my family would never be the same. And it wasn’t.
In August we packed our Suburban and drove out of California (and out of my comfort zone) headed three states away to Dallas, Texas with our first child. Normally I love to travel, but this trip was different. I had a lump in my throat most of the drive thinking about leaving my “child” so far away.
We arrived at Southern Methodist University in two days. After meeting the new roommate, supplying Sara with extra blankets and supplies, the moment to leave arrived. It happened out in the parking lot behind her dormitory. Sara, Ron, and I magnetized into a big sobbing ball, clinging to each other for dear life.
On the tearful drive out of Dallas, all I could do was sob. Ron tried to soothe my aching heart by reminding me that Sara’s going to college was the natural progression to independent adulthood, that this experience was what we all had hoped for and planned. Of course, he was right, but the separation anxiety blurred my logic.
By Gallup, New Mexico, I felt a bit better (until I looked back to the empty seat). I became philosophic about my grief and the loss of my daughter to Texas. What welled forth in those 1500 miles was one positive prevailing thought: I had absolutely no regrets about the way I shared my time during those first 18 years with Sara.
I had no regrets because my children had always been my focus. Yes, I had worked, both part and full time as a teacher, and yes, I was also a wife, sister, daughter, and cousin, but my children were the most important people (other than Ron) in my life.
For those of you with small busy children, with junior high students who are testing your every fiber of patience, and with high school students whom you want to throw out of the house now, picture yourself at the college dorm, driving away, leaving your son or daughter at the steps of their next journey in life. Getting to this point with the fewest regrets is the goal.
When we arrived home from Dallas, our son Ben was waiting for us, a high school sophomore. Seeing Ben in a new light, I knew I had two more years to enjoy the ups and downs of parenthood. And I did.
Photo by Cheri Block Sabraw 2009 Small Pansy