This first appeared in Parent of Adults by Asha Dornfest, my newsletter about life after the kids grow up. Read the full issue + comments on Substack.
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In the comments of The Drop-Off (in which I described what it was like to drop my kids off at college), Mel replied:
This was helpful to read and… I need more 🙂 Meaning, I don’t see myself being nearly as okay with the moment. […] I need to know how to let that rational side of my brain (I prepared them, they’re ready for this, it will be good for them) be louder than the emotional side of my brain.
What an honest and (I think) brave comment. I totally identified with Mel’s worry about how she’ll handle her kid’s departure. I felt that way, too. During both my kids’ senior years, everything felt more poignant, as if the days played out under the fading light of a perpetual sunset.
We could talk about the inevitable grief that comes with kids growing up and moving out — something that can be hard to say out loud.
But Mel’s comment spoke to a more general fear I’ve wrestled with as a parent: the fear of failing my kid at a crucial moment. What if my kid needs me to do something important or be a certain way …and I screw up? What if I can’t handle this?
The problem with loving them so much is that the stakes are always so %@&*high. You know?
I don’t have a solution, exactly. But I have found two comforting strategies for when my thoughts stray too far into the imagined future.