Change is never easy. If I had a dollar every time the rug was ripped out from beneath my feet and forced to change, you wouldn’t be reading this post. I’d be able to afford the mountain cabin dream or sit forever along a sunny beach deep in some non-fiction reading.
Or, maybe you would, some first loves (writing in this case) are hard to let go.
The hardest thing for me right now is to accept the changing dynamics of my household. My daughters, no longer the munchkins I used to write about (perhaps best referred to as my spinoffs), are near to leaving the nest. I thought I was dealing well with this changing landscape, but the cracks have begun to show. An example is the occasions I outright refuse to allow them to drive. I don’t know if it is the mistrust of their youthful ability, the knowledge of so much terrible driving out there (looking at you Aloha and Silverado), or the fact that once they’ve wheels of their own—they’ll just as soon be gone.
Not too long ago, though I’m sure it is closing in on a decade, the girls had this wild idea to buy an RV and travel the countryside together with a handful of their friends. Even though they have a two year age difference, their friendships overlap.
I admit I could picture their travels all too well—the redwood forests of California, the Louisiana swamps, and the endless landscape of Arizona. Along with the dozens of cats, dogs, birds, and every other critter rescued along the way. Every available space in that little RV put to use.
There was a rush listening to their plans, my eyes watery. Well, the latter at the thought of all the cat rescuing as I’m allergic. The excitement in my heart over the places they would visit that I’ve yet to visit and probably will never get around to visiting.
I have yet to ask the girls about the RV dreams of seemingly forever ago. If they remember the adventures they were confident would ensue. I have a feeling their minds have changed. The eldest spent two weeks overseas amongst friends and came back a little less than impressed, and the youngest doesn’t care much for small, crowded spaces.
It’s funny, in that heart-wrenching, gut-punch way, when your children are first born or toddling, the notion of their moving on without you seems incomprehensible. The diaper changes, the late-night feedings, and sleepless nights seem unending. Then, in a blink comes kindergarten, and before you know it, sixth grade.
I don’t know about you, but junior high went so fast it was near to nonexistent, and now here we are near the end of high school. In another blink, they will march down the graduation aisle followed by the debate on the far off places to live after college.
Time goes too fast, and I feel not so much behind but left behind.
It isn’t that I don’t want them to leave. I expect it. I’ve worked too hard to make sure the girls have reached this point and, more so, to do it right. I’m not saying perfectly, oh no, none of us have or ever will manage perfection anywhere in life. If anyone says to the contrary, they are lying.
I use the word “right” only against the measurement of my mistakes. I did not have a lot of guidance in my youth. Those initial steps into the world were complicated. No regrets. However, I do use my experience to guide and spare my girls some pain here and there when possible.
A few months ago, I happened across a photo of the three of us asleep on the floor. We were exhausted from some activity or another. The girls are impossibly little, and I know the mom in the photo has no idea how quickly it will all pass. Back then, everything was so different, the worries and concerns. Now I wonder—will I know I’ve done a good enough job and will they be OK?
Your kids get a graduation certificate showcasing the years of work they put into their schooling, but there’s no certificate for parenting. I suppose it is because the job never truly ends. My mother once said parenting seemed harder on her when we kids became adults as opposed to when we were kids. I never really understood that until recently. When the kids grow up and move out into the world, whether in nation-crossing RVs or nadda, you have no control over it, and everything changes.
Did I mention change is never easy?
Bethany J. Royer-DeLong is a reporter for the Daily Advocate and Early Bird and a life-long resident of Darke County. She holds a bachelor’s degree in work psychology and a master’s degree in organizational leadership because she’s a sucker for all things jobs. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.