Couple of months ago I was anxious about my son departing for a semester abroad. He returned safe and sound a month ago and has been home for a few weeks. About to move into the dorm for the last time for busy summer school sessions heading into senior year.
And his twin sister is now headed off for a couple months. Where as she was about hour and half away this spring while he was out of the country, she might as well be leaving the country. She will be over 14 hours away by car. I know because I have ridden with her and taken two days to do it for her summer internship in Colorado.
My daughter is my firstborn by 1 minute. While my son is a lot like me in wildy demonstrative and expressive, hands flying all over when he talks, my daughter is not. She’s generally calm on the outside. She’s often an oasis for me in that regard. Much like her late father.
I am proud of her getting this internship that will not only pay part time but will earn much needed credit if she is to graduate on time next May. As proud as I am though I am going to miss her. I was anxious for my son out of the country at a time when there is so much volatility in the world at large. But even here at home a few states away I can’t help but wonder about my girl. She’s smart and savvy and aware of her surroundings I know. She’s strong and tall and formidable in a physical way. I will still worry.
We listened to Amy Poehler’s Yes Please book in the car and started Tina Fey’s Bossy Pants. Both with strong messages for women in a world that is still often hostile and dismissive to females. It’s hard to believe that it still continues but it does. Men don’t get it. How often has a man worried if he will be physicically safe? I would be shocked if I put that question to any man and he had a real example. Or one he would even admit to.
I travel a lot for work. A woman solo most of the time on the road. My father raised me to have situational awareness and vigilance. Walk with a purpose. I said same to both my children. They do this. My son is 6’8″ but I still worry as there are crazies everywhere.
Here’s an example and if you don’t understand it then well you probably aren’t a woman or are a woman not paying attention. My daughter and I were traveling through the Texas panhandle and stopped in a small town. The lot was full of pickup trucks and lots of men going in and out of the c store. Saw only one other woman. As my daughter walked into the station I took mental note of what she was wearing. You might think I am paranoid but I saw some rough characters going in there. Not that I really thought someone might grab her but hey I am a mom of a young woman and terrible things happen. I hate that.
When I went into the store we were the only women in there and had quite a few glances our way. I didn’t feel unsafe but I was wary just in case.
Here’s the worst part of this story. Back on the road I admitted to my daughter how uncomfortable I was back at that station and how it proved my point of wanting to ride up with her. Not just for safety but also long drive and switch up, stop over night etc. I told her my mental note over what she had on if I had to describe her. Which is AWFUL to think about. Worst part? She was painfully aware of the fact that we were way outnumbered and these men looked like hadn’t seen women in days.
They could have been super nice Boy Scouts under the layers of dirt and grime and all that. But still.
This is what it is to be female. Always on guard. Sad isn’t it?
So my daughter will be states away, and living in a couple of different places due to last minute circumstances. One is an outrageously costly by comparison vacation rental by owner situation because we were out of options last minute. People renting a room out. Seem like nice folks who have college students, daughters, of their own and looks to be secure. I will still worry like crazy. They were nice enough to indulge in my mom questioning of their extra room situation. My girl seems to be comfortable but I know her and she will be cautious and is a little nervous too. We watch Law & Order and SVU people. Along with crime podcasts I am sure we have scared ourselves needlessly.
Logically I know she will be fine. Better than fine and come home armed with more direction for her chosen field of study. And quite possibly I will lose her to the beauty of Colorado when she graduates if a position is there for the taking.
All things to be happy and proud about and for her. She is my baby girl though no matter how tall or grown she gets. “Special K” we called her as a baby and little one. She is all that.
Kids grow up and we want that. Up and away is harder though. At least for me. I don’t live with a husband or partner that will take the edge of the lonely or sad that will come. Or the worry and anxious moments when I think when was the last time she and I talked while she’s away.
I will pray for her safety of course. I will pray and wish for her to have an amazing couple of months, learning growing and expanding horizons that will be great to hear all about when she shares.
As a wise fellow parent said, when our kids go to college we move into a more consultative role in their lives. One that they have to invite us into, even if we are still footing the bill. That is all true.
If we have done the job right to this point they will keep sharing and inviting us in.
Also as I have said so many times and mentioned in blog posts and elsewhere there is no touchdown dance in parenting. We are that always.
Blessings to all parents and children headed out from graduations onto the next chapters. Adulting is hard!