It’s a hard thing to try and juggle giving attention to four kids and you’re the only parent. It’s not that they are demanding it, either, it’s that you want to spread the wealth here and there. Doing that is simply very hard to do as you can’t give 1/4 of your time to any one kid on a daily basis. You still have to to work and earn a living to pay the bills for the things we need to survive.
Spreading that attention is even harder when your child is in college. I suppose it’s a little easier if they are closer, somewhere in driving distance, and you can see them on the occasional weekend here and there.
However, I have a child in another state and getting to her is anything but easy. My case in point: my oldest was in a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in her drama department. I had bought a ticket to go out and see her in the play, which was supposed to be yesterday, April 15th. Then, somewhere along the way, logistics and the theater department stepped in and I was informed by my daughter that the date had changed. A couple weeks later, at the least. The problem with that is I have to work and I’d already bought the plane tickets.
There are four sacrosanct months in television news: February, May, July and November. (Well, July is like the red-headed stepchild of the months) These are the ratings periods when your ratings set the ad rates for the year. Being in “Special Projects” you do just that: create special projects for those months. The new day of my daughter’s play is exactly the day the May ratings period starts. Surprise and visit blown.
So I visited anyway. The kids allowed me to sit in on their run-through and seniors in my daughter’s department all came up and told me how much they loved my daughter.
I informed them, rather sarcastically, that they should. She is my daughter, after all.
After a number of comments about her father’s hair and the costume that’s not complete the department started their run of the play and the Dad was shuffled to observer of the day’s events. That’s as it should be. (Okay, I was pulled into a dance at the end of the play, but that was fun)
But the thing that kept running through my mind the last two days has been that, regardless of her issues or emotions or problems at school . . . this is her life now. She’s moving to become the adult she should. That’s not an easy thing when for the last three years I’ve had to shoulder more of the load. I don’t mind that, but it’s hard to let go of it once the load lightens a little. You begin to miss the little things.
Bear in mind, this isn’t empty nest syndrome, my nest is far from empty. I want my daughter to have a wonderful life and enjoy her college days. She seems to be doing just that. No, it’s the realization that, even at my age now, this is the change that came I should have seen coming and didn’t. My daughter is now the age I was when I met her mother. It was maybe two years from this age when I was engaged. I think of myself as being so very mature and ready at the time . . . and realizing now that I wasn’t. I see my daughter and realize she’s so much more mature and ready than I was at her age. I just want her to have more experiences and embrace the changes around her more than I did.
I won’t begrudge her this time or mope around knowing she’s away from the house. I will, however, miss the days sitting next to her doing the most mundane of things or watching a movie or what have you.
Then as we’re leaving her dorm room to head to my rental car she asks me “can we run to Target? I really need some stuff at the store. I’m sorry, I hate to ask . . . “
And the Dad in me smiles just a little . . . since I get to do some things the way they’ve always been.