This started with the arrival of my oldest for winter break from college, of course. It’s funny, you think everything will fall back into the same routine that it always was but that doesn’t really happen. Home isn’t the daily “home” for your daughter. I’ve had to adjust and the kids have too with having her home. We chugged along alright the first half of her school year. It will be interesting to see how the rest of it goes.
But the adjustments didn’t end there. It was an adjustment for me, her Dad, to see how much more of an adult, just after a few short months, my daughter had become. The way she carried herself, acted, reacted to the people she left from high school who didn’t face the change and embrace it. I simultaneously saw how brilliant a person she was that she could adjust so amazingly . . . and wondered how that tiny littler person I loved so much disappeared and became someone who I might be walking down the aisle in the not so distant future.
My sons were a bit freaked out all weekend because they’d gotten used to having their sister home. They were hyper, jumping around, fighting with each other and it was obvious that she was one of the reasons. I think she thought she was the only reason but I know she wasn’t.
This week, for the first time since losing their mother, the boys are going on a field trip that takes them away from home and away from family. They’re in separate groups, going to another city, away from me and without communications to their Dad. It’s scary. It’s a lot of weight to carry particularly if you’re still carrying a little bit of the grief from a couple years ago. I can see the excitement, but I see the fear and uncertainty mixed in with it.
Life is change, of course, and this means we all either fight or embrace it. The kids have had no choice but to embrace it but in the last three years I’ve tried to teach them that fighting it just gets you pummeled by the waves of change and you end up tired, hurt, and riding the wave in the end anyway. We didn’t pick some of the paths we’d been forced on but we walked them nonetheless. Since then we’ve managed to do more and see more and enjoy more than we did before. None of that would have happened if things hadn’t changed so drastically after losing my wife.
I ended up buying a ton of stuff I didn’t need or want for the field trip which added to my anxiety and stress for the week. My anxiety isn’t being alone, I’ve done it for a few summers while the kids visit my parents. My anxiety is for my boys who are facing this with no communication with me. I don’t show it to them hoping they see I’m confident they’ll be fine . . . and I am . . . but there’s always that small part of you that worries.
Then there’s the trip to the airport . . . where I watch, after adjusting to having my daughter back in the home, her move up the escalator to board her flight back to college. My adjustment is the fact that, as much as I love having my kids home and around me . . . this year marked the moments where I realized there’s no returning to that. It’s not a loss, there’s no grief. This is the fact that she’s now grown up.
I didn’t want them to grow up, but there it is again, change.
And like all others . . . we adjust.