Before I Let Go
Can I make sure I'm right?
In about 7 months, I will be an empty nester. Whether my daughter decides to stay in NYC for college, or heads off to another state (sigh!), she and I will spend less and less time together and frankly, it’s a little hard to fathom. Those who know me know that I am probably going to fall apart when she graduates in June and I have come to terms with that. I know that she’s ready to spread her wings and that I, and her village, have done (and continue to do) all the things to prepare her to fly.
I still have the sads though.
My daughter is my heart, and it has been a great joy being a guide and a witness to her growth and her maturity. All of the things that well-meaning people told me would go wrong, did not. First, it was “wait until the Terrible Twos.” That didn't happen. Next, it was “those ‘tween years will have her feeling herself and giving attitude.” Nope. Then it was “wait until she’s 13, she’ll turn on you.” Nah, not at all. Maybe my many years as an educator and my remembering my own life transitions allowed me to just meet her where she was. Has she ever had an attitude or gotten funky? Yes. So have I and so have you and you and you.
Before she was 1, she was diagnosed with hemiplegia-pachygyria, This is common knowledge, so I’m not telling her business out of turn. Please feel free to Google it, because I won’t be going over it here, but that initial diagnosis was devastating. Even with the dreary outlook that some folks had, I vowed to treat her like a person, not a project. She has a disability. And? I kept doing the same things I had done with her before the diagnosis, we just added physical and speech therapists, neurologists, and orthopedists to our outing roster.
As she aged, I shifted my life to accommodate her needs while still going for my dreams. She was there at both my MA and Ph.D. graduations — the proudest and loudest in the room. And when I noticed her proclivity for art and dance (she pop locked like Turbo and Ozone in the womb), I found the classes she needed to satisfy her growing passions for self-expression. Now after dozens of recitals and art shows, along with cultural identity programs (shout out Ifetayo and Girls for Gender Equity among others), I have to let her go.
This is harder than I expected it to be.
She has such a strong self-concept that I am not worried about her and making good choices. I have literally prepared her for this and I am continuing to make a concerted effort to make sure that she has the life skills to take care of herself and she’s getting there. I’m also doing the work I need to do for me — sometimes subconsciously other times on full on purpose. From having a lazy weekend afternoon watching movies with my daughter where feelings come up and we both cry, then talk, to broaching subjects with my own mother I would not have dared to just a few years ago. The generational trauma that lives deep in my DNA, the wounds that my mom unknowingly inflicted on me, are all being healed via this deep intimacy that I am continuing to cultivate with my daughter; an intimacy that lets her know that even though I won’t be with her physically, I am always with her. And letting her go in a healthy way allows my to fly in the ways that I need to.
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