Yesterday I dropped my 19-year-old daughter off at college. She is beginning her freshman year. I was filled with mixed emotions, as I imagine many parents are at this milestone..but then again, I don’t imagine many parents have traveled the same journey that we have, over the last 5 years.
I may have mentioned before that it has been a bumpy ride.
When we brought her home from Africa…she was emotionally extremely young for her age. Both she and my son had only learned to eat with a spoon–it’s all they had been exposed to. I let that go for a couple of days…and then put only a fork and knife at their places at the table.
She was pissed.
She demanded her spoon.
I refused. I told her she had to learn to use the fork and knife, that she would be going to school in a couple of weeks, and that she would be expected to use them there. I knew that at 14… at 14 if she only used a spoon at school, well the teasing would be just cruel. So I was firm. She thought I was cruel. She begged my husband to cut up her food. He cut some up for a day…until I made him stop.
She would pout, and purse her lips and say NO!! and look away. She would throw herself on the floor and have tantrums.
She was 14. I was going through chemo.
At one point she looked at me, during one of our more heated “conversations,” and said “Well I guess you’re going to have to get used to me living here in my house now with my rules” or some such shit like that. You can probably predict what I thought–oh hell no you did not say that to me–I am sick as hell with chemo–I fought for SIX years to bring you here, and you treat me like THIS?? AND THIS IS MY DAMN HOUSE!!!!
But I took a breath…and said that this was MY house, and that we lived there TOGETHER and as such we would learn to live TOGETHER…
We are still trying to figure that out.
It would be a lot easier if she would let me in. At least a little bit.
She has come a long long long way since those early days on the kitchen floor, pouting (and for the record, when she did that, I stepped over her, and told her when she was done with her tantrum to come find me so we could discuss her complaint…). She is obstinate. This worries me.
A lot of things with her worry me.
I moved her in to her dorm room yesterday and helped set her up. We got her books… I did a final scan of the room, and carried out the boxes. I hugged her good-bye, wished her luck and said I would see her later. And I turned and walked away.
She needs to miss me now.
She needs to know that she actually does love me…that I am not this person she has created in her mind.
For five years she has been trying to build a wall between us. For five years I have been trying like hell to tear it down.
I spent last night worrying what she was doing, her first night alone…had I taught her enough….had I done the right thing letting her go…
She did not text me–she texted my husband earlier in the evening.
Eventually she will see, through all of her anger, pain, sorrow….through all of her bullshit…I have always been here. Even as she pushed, punched, kicked me away…I still held on. Even if by a thread.
And that even now, I still do.
Even as I let go…just a little bit.