Friday, October 9, 2009
Three Weeks and Counting
The summer between her sophomore and junior years of high school, our daughter, Emily, went to China for three weeks. Today, at 3 weeks plus one day since she left for college, it is officially her longest absence from our home. She called last night and I reminded her of this fact. She did not seem to find it quite as compelling as I did. However, I must admit that while I am poignantly aware of her absence, I am not bereft. At freshman orientation during the summer, I attended an evening seminar led by a UCSB psychology professor. The topic was parental separation anxiety and how we could better cope with our children's pending departure. The speaker painted a portrait of completely incapacitated parents, pacing their empty home like Mrs. Haversham, awaiting the return of our loved ones. I somewhat smugly admitted to myself that I was not anticipating this kind of reaction, that I felt ready for my daughter to begin this journey. As the speaker droned on and on about our forthcoming loss, my resolve softened. Was I fooling myself? Would I, too, find myself devastated by her departure and never find meaningful life experience to fill the vacuum that her absence had created? Intellectually, I felt I had the coping skills to effectively manage this dramatic change in our family dynamic. Emotionally, I began to worry. But, today, as I find myself at this milestone, I have to admit that I am doing just fine. Our goal for each of our three children has always been to prepare them for a successful transition to college life and the opportunities that would ensue. Thus far, we are one for three, and counting. So rather than wringing my hands in despair, I am patting myself on the back for that which we have so far done right.