Recently, someone shared some very wise words with me.
There is no learning without pain. To really understand something, it’s got to hurt.Leslie Josel. Owner of Order Out of Chaos®.
Oh my goodness me — this lesson rang it’s bell loud and clear right through every nerve of my soul. Wait until you read what happened to me this weekend.
I have three kids. Two boys and a girl. The girl is my youngest child and my sweet baby. She just graduated from high school this past June and has left the “nest”. It’s her first year away at university and, let me tell you, it was not easy letting her go.
During her last year in high school, while her two older brothers were at school, we spent so much time together. I took her to school each morning while we listened to our favourite tunes in the car. Sometimes (okay most mornings) we would stop at Starbucks on her way to school. And, if I wasn’t busy, I would pick her up after school, even though she could have walked home. Weekend plans were spent with her friends, but I was always available in case they didn’t work out.
Did I spoil her? You bet I did! And I loved every minute of it!
I’m sure you can imagine the pang of pain I felt as she was packing up her duffle bags for her dorm.
Bye bye coffee dates. Browsing at our favourite clothing store. Stopping at nothing to find the best mascara.
There I was, hunched over her duffle bag, helping her zip it up, as I zipped up my feelings and packed them right down where nobody could see.
Several of my friends were also in the same predicament. “Didn’t you cry?” “I feel so lost without him/her/they.” “It’s when the last one goes… that stings the most.”
I nodded. Agreed. And I was definitely sad, just like the rest of my mom crew, but it didn’t really hit me until this weekend.
“Mom, I don’t feel well.” After receiving the COVID negative results, her family doctor reassured us that people are still getting colds. She will get over it with plenty of rest and fluids.
“Do you want to come home?” I straight out asked her. “I don’t know. “ She replied.
My gut instinct was to drive the 2.5 hours to her dorm, scoop her up and bring her home so I can give her plenty of rest, fluids and loads of TLC in her nice and cozy bed, right down the hall from my bedroom. She could sip piping hot tea with honey as she watched episodes of her favourite show, and I would prop her pillows and make sure all was right.
But being away at school for university is a completely different life than what was.
Schmoozing until the wee hours with your friends. Going out whenever, without having to ask anyone. The freedom feels like running through a field yelling “Yeah!!! I’m free to do what I want! Anytime I want!”
You should see my daughter’s face light up when asked about school. “It’s so much fun!”
But all this fun and freedom comes hand in hand with work, work and more work, with professors that may not really care. And when your stomach is growling, it’s up to you to feed it, which means facing cafeteria food which is so not what you’re used to. Don’t forget that pile of laundry in the corner of your room, or is it on the floor?
And then, when something hurts. Physically or emotionally. And you want to come home so mommy and daddy can make it all better.
That’s not how it works.
Being away at school means dealing with the whole package. The partying and the pain.
Which brings me to the current situation.
“Mommy, I don’t feel well.”
I was fighting what to do with all my might. I couldn’t focus on anything, but her. Many, and I mean many texts were exchanged back and forth and then came the Facetime phone call.
I suggested a few things. She nodded her head.
And then, with an elephant standing on my chest — that’s what it felt like — I spoke the truth.
“I so want to hop in my car and pick you up, but you know and I know that’s not the answer.”
She nodded again.
And then I let go.
Although it wasn’t easy, and it took awhile, after that last nod I knew from my gut that I did the right thing.
Although it was painful, uncomfortable and unfamiliar, it was a lesson that neither of us will forget and whoa, did I ever learn from it.
I hope she will too.