Monday, October 13, 2008


Today I am on a plane to Germany to take my daughter to herfirst year of college.

(I wrote about it for my 9-11-08 Real-Life Mom column published monthly in the SW Weekly section of The Oregonian newspaper, also found online

It is bittersweet. Germany is one of my favorite places, and not just because I was born there. I love the German lifestyle of walking and riding bicyclesto places, and I am especially happy that Rachel chose Bible college forher first year away.

That is the sweet part.

But I find myself a bit lost as my first child leaves the nest,even if that is not permanent — yet. Part of the reason may be that she is my firstborn and part mayhave to do with her being my only daughter, in a family with four sons.

And perhaps part of the reason has to do with my identity as a mother. Ihave been a mom for almost two decades. I have been needed — and by mydaughter’s side — for almost half my life. My daughter and I are very close. I have coached her sportsteams and volunteered in her classrooms and led her high school Biblestudy and summer church camps. We’ve gone on mission trips and summerroad trips together.

Now she won’t need me as much. I know that is not entirely true, as she will still need me in different ways, but that is how I will feel on that long flight home, which I will not think about right now.

I have begun to realize — though it is hard to admit — that I have a tendency to become emotionally dependent upon my children,especially my daughter. I have found myself somewhat insecure at times unless my kidsare with me — again, especially my daughter. I am not talking about emotional dependency in the clinical sense, in which people hold others back in order to be needed.

And I am not talking about emotional dependency in the “living through mychild” kind of way, though that is an issue with some parents. I am talking about my basic emotional attachment to my children.

I suppose part of it is that I find fulfillment and enjoyment inbeing a mom. But you begin realizing as your children grow that they donot need you as much. And moving our kids toward independence is what we strive for from the day they leave the womb.

We celebrate every step towardindependence: The first day without diapers. The first time riding abicycle without training wheels. The first day of school. (It is wild tothink that my firstborn starts college as my lastborn startskindergarten. How’s that for coming full circle?) So, bittersweet is where I’m at. But is that not whatparenting is all about? The good with the tough; the blessings with thechallenges; the years together, the times to say goodbye.

Yes, it will be hard leaving my daughter, but sweet coming home tofour sons who still need me.

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