Joanna Pudil, LCSW-R
Our lives are filled with many transitions, many of which we don’t even realize are happening. Some transitions are well thought out some just come without much planning or forethought. However, there are transitions that make a lasting impact. These types of transitions can either leave a positive or negative imprint. Or can these transitions be both negative and positive?
I recently experienced one of those transitions with a lasting impact. This transition has been in the making for the past 17 years. You would think that I was totally prepared and that I was securely ready for it. At last, I was not, nor were most people surrounding me that day. I’m sure you are wondering what this transition was that I’m referring to. It was dropping my oldest son off at college.
Some of you may be disappointed that it wasn’t a bigger, more exciting transition, but yet it was still a difficult one. I am so proud of him for getting into college and for all that he has done. He is such an amazing human being. It was such a proud parent moment, but a sad one too. This was the marking of him turning into an adult. He would be making all of his own choices. He was in charge now. There had been a gradual shift going on where he was taking more control of his life. He had stopped asking if he could go out or not with friends, but instead informing me that he was going out. Curfews had become more of a negotiation rather than a rule to be set by his parents. The most significant part of this transition is that I’m not going to see him every day of his life. It felt like that I had been moved from his team to a mere spectator in his life. This was the hardest part for me and every other parent that day at move-in day. I could see it in all of the parent's faces and tears.
Where do we go from here? This is what I thought about on the long 4-hour drive back home in an empty car. I could have turned around the car and told him that this was a bad idea and he needs to come home. The city has many fine colleges. However, I know that wouldn’t be a healthy approach for my son and our situation. I had been speaking to my friends who had taken their kids off to college in prior years before my time. I was hoping to get tips to prepare myself for this big day. They all spoke about looking forward to the school breaks and planning quality time with them. Their wisdom is wise. I will take the time to mourn the loss of not being a part of his daily life, but I also decided to focus on the break time I have with him. We need to acknowledge the change, but not get stuck in it.
If you are stuck, please reach out. I can help.