Here’s to letting go of the Routine!

It’s 3:20 on a Wednesday and I haven’t worked out yet.  I have no idea what’s for dinner and I just had lunch.  I slept in until 8 a.m….something I haven’t done in ages.  I’m starting to get glimpses of what it will be like when H leaves for college.   For the last 18 years, my life has been defined by the routines and schedules that come with being a mom.  My schedule was her schedule.  Bedtime, awake time, meal time, study time,  cuddle time, worry time.  Ah yes, the worry.  Worrying about whether she was hungry, tired, warm, healthy, safe, happy…that is a constant, but the worries have progressed over the years to worrying about whether she was doing enough, doing too much, getting where she needed to be on time, doing her assignments on time, driving safely, making smart choices, not texting while driving-it never stops.  It became so entrenched that I don’t really remember what I did or even worried about before she was born. 

H is in France.  Her school has a Winterim program every January, where the 9th and 10th graders take special interest classes instead of their regular classes (Women and Finance, Music of the 60’s, sewing, The Beatles, The Kennedys, etc.), and the 11th and 12th graders go off campus-to internships or travel programs either in town or out of town.  H is in France doing a combination tour and home stay.  She will live with a French family for 9 days in southern France, learn about their food, schools, routines, and hopefully, polish her French.  It’s an incredible opportunity for her, and I am thrilled she gets to do it.

She has traveled a lot in the last couple of years without us; Colorado, California, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Baltimore, Washington and China.  Each time was a little less worrisome.  At this age she is like a sponge, learning what to do and not to do when traveling (make sure her phone is charged, don’t leave her computer on the plane), and at this point it has become much easier.  As her parent, I always worry (probably always will), but I know she has the maturity and wisdom to take care of herself.  It’s also made it easier for me each time to let her go.  When she was a little girl I spent the entire time she was gone writing her letters, checking the camp website for photos, worrying and thinking about her almost constantly.  But the last couple of years I’ve begun to appreciate the unscheduled days.  The time with my dear husband for late, long, leisurely meals or hiking with the dogs, sleeping in, staying out late, eating popcorn for lunch, and even increasing the times I can volunteer is growing on me.

I could write a million pages about how difficult it’s been for me to “let go” (and I actually have!)…I know that part of parenting is to let her make her own decisions and mistakes…but knowing and doing are two completely different things.  J tells me I “micromanage”.  So lately, when I think I need to stay up late to pack HER suitcase, or make sure she submits HER college applications, I have to literally make myself STOP.   I didn’t pack her suitcase for France.  I didn’t go to Walgreens to buy the toiletries and things we didn’t already have.  As difficult as it was,  I didn’t stay up late to look over her shoulder while she wrote her college essays.   And you know what?  It all got done.  SHE packed, SHE shopped, SHE stayed up late and got the apps in on time.  It’s very liberating.  Not easy, but it’s a good feeling.

Halfway across the world, in a tunnel under the street in Paris, she ran into our neighbor and childhood friend!

Last night we went to sleep while she was still in the air on a flight to Paris (something I wouldn’t have been able to do a couple of years ago).  The world didn’t cave in.  I woke up this morning with a really good night’s sleep and had a text from her that she was there.  I know the day that I take her to college, move her into her dorm room, and drive away will probably be the hardest thing I ever do.    But I know she will be OK.  Even more, I know that I will be OK.   Eventually.

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