If you have ever sent a child off to college, you know the plethora of emotions that go along with it. We are thrilled for them to head out into the world with all the knowledge they have learned while under the shelter of a loving home and watchful eye of concerned parents. We are scared to let them go, because what if the 18 years we have committed as parents to teaching them all they need to learn falls short, and they get into trouble or hurt? What if we are not there to ease the inevitable disappointments? What if they have no one to turn to? What if they are lonely, scared, ashamed? What if they actually take all that knowledge and apply it and become even more than we ever dreamed they could be? What if they actually SUCCEED and become perfectly lovely adults who actually do make the world a better place?!
I've done this once already. I've nagged a daughter to get scholarships, apply for loans, meet college application deadlines, toured schools, spent sleepless nights waiting for the acceptance letter to schools.... cussed at and sworn off ever looking in the direction of a school that neglected the fruit of my loins, because you know what? They are obviously too stupid to see how great she is!! And I've donned the colors and overpriced apparel of the college that saw that potential and sent her the FAT envelope! I'm no stranger to the dance that is the senior year. The fact that I already did this once is not helping me at all now that I'm doing it again. Much to my chagrin, my children are all so different!! Ally has a totally different drive and motivation (or maybe lack thereof) than Katie did. My husband has even jumped on the bandwagon of threats and nagging to light a fire under this one. With Katie, we could say "do this" and even if it was begrudgingly done, she would DO IT! Ally seems much more hellbent on actually making those mistakes and pushing the envelope and missing deadlines to see exactly what will happen if those things come and go, and she did NOT do the things she was told to do. In other words, she is like me. What a sad thought... she's going to have to actually MAKE her own mistakes, she is not just going to take my word for it. I already lived that! Let me spare you that pain and disappointment.
Nope, she's her own person. So here I am again. No good advice to myself on how I'll get through it again, I've weathered the senior year before, I can do it again. We will, indeed, beat the odds and prove to the world that YES, the Harolds CAN produce functioning and contributing members of society, ready to problem solve and meet challenges and rise above and set the world on a much better path than it was before this child charged out into it, guns ablaze and ready to roll. What is it we really fear as parents? I have taken pains to set the bar extremely low so the kids will always be able to step over it with ease and I can say "SEE?!! Success! You woke up and breathed today, that was all that was on the agenda! GO YOU, KID!! You went beyond all expectations, because I didn't HAVE ANY!" If I feed them and give them shelter and clothing, they are better off than most, and that is a WIN in itself, right?
At least I can rest in the fact that for the next 9 months, I know where she is at all times, and that she is safe, warm, and loved. Her parents can be both exasperated with and fiercely behind her at the same time, and above all, that she is all she needs to be right now. I love you Ally, you are and always will be my baby. I can't wait to see where this road called life takes you.