So, yesterday my eldest child, my 18-year old daughter, left the nest. She returned to South Carolina to begin getting her life established and prepare for her October wedding. So many thoughts and ideas in my head, I don’t know how long it will take for everything to sort out, but writing helps. Maybe.
Yesterday evening was numb. That’s the only word I can think to use because I know I felt, I know I ached, I know I gushed, but I don’t know how much of it really sunk in. The world was passing by. My daughter’s bags and boxes were being loaded by her fiancé and brother. She was gathering last minute stuff. My wife was crying. My youngest and her friends were crying. My younger son was being silly and tossing out smart remarks (at 14, that is how he deals with things). My older son was being tough and strong (until his sister hugged him goodbye). It was there, it was real, but it was surreal, too. I was there, but the numbness took me away from there. I did almost cry. I thought I would, but then my wife began crying and I “had to be strong”. Yeah, guy-macho-stuff, whatever, but that’s what happened.
I, of course, don’t mean to detract from my daughter. She is beautiful and she is ready for this. Or, well, she isn’t any more ready than any of us were. She’s young and, in many ways, naïve. But she is ready to go. I’m sure she will do fine. She has much to learn, but so did we all. She has a good foundation and a great fiancé. We don’t always agree, but we don’t have to. She will be fine, and if not, she is strong and we are still here for her. I don’t mean to impress that our tears and concerns are because of her bolting away in anger and frustration. Not at all. She wants to spread her wings and we want her to be our baby girl. That is the way of things. We reluctantly let go of the child we knew and she spreads her wings and learns that flying is great, but much more work than she knew. 🙂 That is the way of things.
Today, though, somewhere between the alarm and work, the numbness wore off and has given way to raw. Again, the only way I can describe it. I am trying to avoid people and be overly gracious when I can’t. If for no other reason, for the simple fact that the people I deal with don’t deserve to be handed their heads when I rip them off. And the rawness is like the exposed nerves of an open wound, laying there, ready to lash out at the slightest provocation. So, I hold myself in check. It isn’t anyone’s fault, and no one deserves the overreaction that is hiding under the surface. So I bite my tongue and hold my breath. Better this way for everyone.
As I think on it, maybe the switch from numbness to raw was when I listened to “our song” this morning. Since she was little, Lydia’s “song” has been Butterfly Kisses by Bob Carlisle. I listened to that this morning, among others, and I cried. Finally, at work, among cubicles filled with co-workers, I had “my private” time and cried. Went through four or five tissues before the song finished, and my nose is still runny. Fortunately, it is allergy season. But I think I can trace the raw back to then. Funny how that works. I think I can “analyze” it too. I’ve been told I’m better than average at analyzing things, but I rarely turn that back towards me. I don’t like the results, normally, but this time seems decent enough.
I think at its core, I don’t want my baby to grow up. I mean, I definitely want her to grow up and lead her own life, but part of me wants to still be daddy that can do everything. Part of me wants the toddling diapered waddle coming around the corner when I get home. Part of me still wants that tiny hand reaching out to grab mine. Part of me wants the pigtails and glittering eyes telling of the softball game. Part of me wants the spunky pre-teen professing that she should be allowed to play baseball, “because she can do it better than most of the boys”. Part of me wants to still be daddy.
But… but part of me wants to watch her make her own way. Part of me wants to walk her, in her radiant beauty, down the aisle. Part of me wants to visit her new home and see how she decorates it to her own tastes. Part of me wants to wait with anticipation for the first news of her own kids. Part of me wants to hold a crying new grandchild. Part of me wants to grow old and watch the cycle continue for another generation. Part of me wants to move on and be dad/grandpa.
“Time heals all wounds,” they say. I don’t know if that is really true, but I know that with time this one will diminish and life will go on. Our family will adjust to the changes, and eventually we will do this again (and again, and again). This, of course, is the way of things.