Feeling Some Kind of Way

23 Sep

My daughter is gone. She’s been away at college now for almost four weeks. It feels longer. We text every few days, talk on the phone less and less as the weeks pass. I miss her, I knew I would, but there’s also another, amorphous, feeling.  Dealing with this shapeless feeling is the hard part.

During my morning dog walk in the park, I’ve been running into dozens moms (and a Dad) who are in the same space. We engaged in brief conversation, remind each other where the others’ child is in school and ask after each others’ state of being.

Most of them report vague feelings of loss.  However, an exchange with one women on my dog walk the other day, yielded an opposite reaction. She threw her arms up in victory and said, “I’m thrilled.”

Her response, her tone to me was assertive and made me feel as if she was saying I was a mush mom for feeling the way I do. At first I felt annoyed at her. I held on to that for a week or so (as HSPs–highly sensitive people–tend to do). I was frustrated at not being able to say to her  right then that the feelings involved in sending them off are not black and white, but gray.

I am simultaneously happy and sad and…

I’m thrilled that my daughter is engaged in her classes. She’s showing me, us, just how grown up she’s become. She is handling her bumps: roommate disagreements, hard French homework, persistent cold, all without my counsel. When I asked her why she hadn’t told me about some of the problems while they were happening, she said: “I wanted to work it out myself.” That makes my heart swell, that makes me throw my arms up in victory.

I’m sad because I just miss her happy, little way, her hilarious comments, spot-on observations and snippets about her and her lovely boyfriend. I miss her presence at the table.

After Ford’s baseball game yesterday, a 13-1 loss, I suggested we go have a late lunch. We decided to go to Raymond’s, one of Baldwin’s favorites. On our way to the car, I said out loud, I miss my daughter. Sitting at the table for four, the empty chair felt as lopsided as it looked.  Cliff misses our daughter too and while Ford maintains that he doesn’t miss her at all, he’s been sleeping in her bed since the day she left.  I somehow feel that my wanting is not like theirs.

I have to practically sit on my hands sometimes to stop myself from calling her. Sometimes I’m just worried. When she was at home and went into the city, she came home at a decent hour, always by the last bus. I would hear her key in the door and could drift off to sleep. Now they go into the city and I don’t know where she is unless she puts something on Instagram. (Thankfully, she’s letting me follow her.) I won’t allow myself to go too deeply into that worry pit, though. I breathe and tell myself to have faith and that parenting and worrying are synonymous.

Although we’re very close, I wait until she calls me. I text every three days, maybe two, but I don’t want to be that mom. I told her on the day of her high school graduation that I’d enjoyed every minute of being her mother–(okay, not when I was screaming  up to her room every morning to get her out of the house to school on time).

I know she will continue to have situations that she’ll handle on her own and sometimes she will ask my opinion.

This is what I raised her to be able to do. Will she make mistakes, of course she will; they all do, it’s called growing.

When she told me, after the fact, that she and her roommate weren’t getting along and she had considered changing rooms, I asked her what she’d done to contribute to their near breakup. She thought for a minute and gave an answer that was mature and thoughtful. She backed away from blaming it all on the roommate and they have since worked out their differences. Another victory lap.

I’m a big believer in owning ones mistakes. I’m clear that I make them all the time. I hate when people can’t, won’t acknowledge a mistake and I’ve tried to raise my children to avoid the habit of always blaming others.

I wish all these human mama emotions could be divided neatly into happy/sad. But the reality is I’m walking around with this  amorphous thing in the pit of my belly.
imageI’m three times Baldwin’s age and I’m still learning:  learning how to keep my comments to myself until she asks for advice and I’m learning to live with,  as Liz Branson used to say, “feeling some kind of way.”

One Response to “Feeling Some Kind of Way”

  1. L September 23, 2013 at 8:42 pm #

    *tears* – I can feel the emotion in this post! Wow!

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