“Don’t Wait Up”

There’s comfort in a few standard parenting things.

When I was in high school and later college, when I’d come home for the summer, if I went out with friends, knowing full well I wouldn’t get home until around midnight (this would be after the age of 18) my father would be there, waiting, in his chair.

I never really thought about it until tonight, but I do the same thing.

My oldest daughter is 18, old enough to know what she should and should not do.  She’s an adult, at least by the letter of the law, and in a few weeks she’s going to be in college.  By the time her birthday rolls around this year she’ll be the age I was when I met her mother.  That actually scares me a little bit, I have to be honest.

But tonight she wanted to go out with friends and I didn’t really have a problem with that.

“You don’t have to wait up,” she said as she walked out the door at about a quarter to ten.  Her friends had worked late, and she knew they’d be talking for awhile.
“I never have to wait up,” I told her.
“Yeah, I know, just putting it out there.”

But I sit here now, writing, and I hope that she takes comfort in the fact that I would be here waiting for her when she gets home.  Sure, I worry to a degree, she’s a young girl out late.  Still, I don’t think about it that way.  It’s a comfort to me just as much that she’s coming in the door and I know she’s safe.  I may not get to do this in a few weeks’ time, but I can do it today.

So I wait up.  It’s not painful (though tomorrow at work might be).  It is comforting, hopefully for both of us, but I’m not thinking of it from her perspective as much as my own.  If I can do this a few more times, I’ll certainly do it.

And when she’s older, or coming with a boyfriend (he shuddered at the thought) or making her way for the holidays . . . I’ll be there, in a chair, like my father, just waiting for her so she knows I’m there.  It’s not to put a fear into her, it’s to comfort her to know that she’s that important.  That it’s not worry, it’s welcoming and it’s consistent.

It’s loving.

So I sit . . . and I will wait up.

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