From my window I notice the tiny girl with strawberry-blonde hair lag behind her parents while taking a moment to examine the grass under her feet. She’s aware of her mom, who looks back over her shoulder every few seconds, and inches away each time it appears they’re getting closer to one another. The mother is alert, attentive, but allows her daughter space. We aren’t that different, I think. I mean it’s what we do all along, that tough balancing act of holding on tight while simultaneously letting go, all the while glancing over our shoulders until that one day when we steal a look back and realize that there’s no one left behind us.
Jordan began her sophomore year in college this week. She discussed classes and her schedule, but she never asked for advice or assistance when planning out the semester. I didn’t expect her to. Figuring out the whole empty nest scenario last year helped me work through this new phase in my life. Trust me, it’s still a work in progress. As I hear friends talking about their kids venturing off to college this week, I’m grateful to be in a different place. And I know the next semester and the semester after that will be easier and perhaps harder all at the same time.
Soon, I will be a mere spectator in my daughter’s life rather than an active participant. Little by little I’m mourning the loss. That’s not to say I’m not excited for her future. There’s no doubt that she will go out and rule the world in her own special way. If I’m honest, I do, however, lust for one more minute to go back in time, ensuring I did things right, offering that last golden nugget of advice, and stressing once more the depth of unconditional love her dad and I hold for her, and that it will always be here. Did I stress all of these things enough? The worry creeps in as we near the final stretch. So I share these “juicy tidbits,” advice, wisdom, and inspiration in one quick swoop as a love letter of sorts for Jordan. I couldn’t finish writing this piece last year when I was right in the middle of enormous change, but today I was able to finish.
Savor “delicious ambiguity.” Be brave. Express yourself. Allow yourself options and take chances. Go makeup free as often as possible; know that you are beautiful. Use your beauty and intelligence for good instead of evil. Take care of yourself and care about others. Be genuine. Independence equals strength; wear it like a coat of armor. Stay curious. Fill your life with laughter. Never stop looking for your passion. Life without passion is lackluster. Admit when you’re wrong. Dust yourself off and move forward. It’s a learning experience, a necessary part of every day living. Try to find the good in everyone. Make friends easily; it’s not as simple as it sounds but worth the work. Be drama free–the last thing the world needs is more drama. Read. Listen. Trust your instincts. Learn when to move and when to stand still. Relish the little things. Be bold. Be compassionate. Be yourself. Be fearless of failure. When it presents itself, take the road less traveled and create your own path. Ignore the urge to glance over your shoulder in search of support or encouragement . . . those exquisite elements fill the space between us.