In September, I wrote a post after going to Hannah’s cross country picnic called Celebrating The Year of Firsts. I wanted to enter into Hannah’s senior year with a positive mindset as we approached so many milestones. I was able to keep this mindset for a couple of months. Then it hit.
I’ve been reading a book called Give Them Wings: Preparing for the Time Your Teens Leave Home, and Hannah’s upcoming departure and family transition hit home hard last week. I know the transition is not until summer. I still want to make the most of every moment with her, but I had a tough week. Emotionally, I was a mess. I felt like I had already lost her, because I hadn’t seen her long enough to have more than a very quick conversation. I wondered how I’d ever get through graduation and our last goodbye if I was this much of a wreck now. The timing of my hormones, this book, and some clouds in some other areas in my life made for a perfect storm.
I was so thankful to talk to a friend in the grocery store whose son graduated last year and is away at school. She could totally relate, and she assured me that I was normal to be going through it the year before Hannah heads to college. She thought that most dads don’t experience the separation issues until they say goodbye and come home to an empty bedroom. She shared that dinnertime is not the same and that being away for birthdays is hard. “Love hard, grieve hard” was her motto. And she said that part of it just sucks. There isn’t any other way to say it. She also reassured me that I’ll get through it, and she encouraged me to give her a call if I ever wanted to talk to someone who has been through it.
I know I’m a normal mom who loves her daughter. I know I’ll have ups and downs in this transition. I know I want to embrace this new season. I also know I need to have the following steps in place to help me along this journey.
1. Find a mentor.
I intentionally sought out a mentor knowing Hannah’s departure would be tough on me. I reconnected with a woman from the church Jon and I attended when we were first married. She lives in Florida now, and she prays for me and is there for me whenever I need to talk. She was the one who suggested that I read the book Give Them Wings. She remembers having a tough time when her daughter first left for college 8 hours away from home.
2. Recognize there will be waves.
I had a really emotional week. The next week, I felt much more stable. I knew I’d still miss Hannah, but I also knew it would be okay. I want to embrace this new season of our lives. Jon and I are getting closer to our second honeymoon phase as our kids get ready to leave us. We had kids soon after we were married, and we are looking forward to time on the other side of parenthood to spend time together.
3. Spend intentional time with your teen.
I really miss having Hannah around. She’s a busy girl between cross-country, her job, and all her schoolwork. We finally had some much-needed family time, and it helped me feel so much better. I heard one person say “It’s all about the relationship. It doesn’t matter where your daughter goes, you’ll always be her mom. It’s the relationship that remains.”
4. Get together with a good friend.
I met one of my best friends at Starbucks. She knows me so well, and she listened to my thoughts and feelings. She understands how it feels to be a mom. She cried with me and prayed for me.
I’m doing better this week. But sometimes it just sucks! I’m learning to love hard as I head into this time of transition.