Yes, I have a teen daughter – 18 years old, to be exact. She is funny, bright, beautiful, quirky, sometimes impossible to deal with, nothing like me and just like me. She is right on the cusp of leaving our home and venturing out on her own. She is going to college this year. We're not sure which one yet (that in itself is stressful enough), but that doesn't change the fact that she's going.
We had a weekend that was just awful. There's no other way to put it. What should have been a wonderful family bonding experience Friday – we visited one of the "Top 3" colleges on her list, and she had an interview for admission – turned out to be stressful and just plain not fun. I so wanted it to be different, but it wasn't. I thought a lot about why that was so, and I came up with what I think may be the answer.
As happy as I am that she is going to college, it also scares me and makes me a little sad. You see, she is our baby. She is the last one to leave the nest. While she's straining at the ropes that keep her here, I am digging in my heels and pulling with all my might to hold onto her. I don't mean to; it's just happening. I know that, in reality, we are raising adults and not children as parents. At least that's the way it should work. We should raise young adults who are capable of functioning and producing, young adults who can be content as well as full of ambition. I look at her and know that we have done a good job.
But I'm going to miss her. Even more terrifying, I am not sure what to do with my emotional energy – and there's a lot of it. I am terrified of being alone in this house with my husband. I love him very much, but it's never been just "us." We married and each brought two children into the mix about 12 years ago. We've never been alone.
I even thought briefly, "Hey, we can adopt another child." I did. Call it temporary insanity, but I did. Just thinking about that makes me tired. We will soon escort our fourth out the door, and that is enough. I am worn out - with raising a family, anyway. And it might not be so bad to go back to being "Carole" as well as "Mom." In fact, it just might be a new adventure.