Why Parenting Sucks Some More (The Graduates)
‘How are you feeling?’
I hesitate. ‘Bittersweet.’
Bittersweet too small a word for when fierce pride and immeasurable joy crash into inconsolable sadness. But it’s all I’ve got for now.
I have boasted about giving them wings, instilling independence, preparing them for launch; not realizing that I am the branch left behind, the dependent awaiting their return, the piece that falls off the rocket and is discarded mid-air. I am humbled by my arrogance, moved by my naiveté, surprised by my lack of preparation as I tumble, spinning through space - where I land, nobody knows.
I wouldn’t change a thing, it’s true. To see them step into the world with excitement and esteem fills me with fulfillment. They have worked hard, risen to the occasion, pushed themselves further than they thought they could go. They stand comfortably and confidently in the spotlight, their certainty stemming from the irreplaceable experience of accomplishment. They have earned this moment and they know it.
‘Job well done!’ I think and feel and also...the pain is palpable - caught between my chest and my throat. I want to cry it out but the tears have no end. I want to talk it out, but the words serve no purpose. I want to stuff it down, but my emotional crutches aren’t doing their job.
So I am left here. Spiraling.
All I can do is let myself flail, reach out to my (incredible) network and trust that, soon enough, I will fall back into my self again. And, until then, I look at their smiling faces and take comfort from their joy and anticipation at the glorious adventures that await them.