I have been anxious these past two weeks.
At first I thought it was stress about high school graduation. My wife and I, with an assist from a former coworker, faced the logistics of ferrying family to and from South Johnston High School. Then we had to plan and execute the after-graduation party, including decorations, music and food (burgers on the grill or pizza?)
But when the anxiety persisted into this past week, I had to rethink its source. Then it occurred to me that a big piece of my life is about to leave home, returning only sporadically until she leaves altogether for a place of her own.
Since Jan. 24, 1996, our daughter has been a fixture in our lives. She has spent the occasional week with grandparents and the occasional night with friends, but otherwise, Kristin has been with us.
It hasn’t always been easy – parents and their children will inevitably clash – and on more than one occasion, Kristin, depending on her age, either held her breath or threatened to move out. (And when she did that, her mother and I either ignored her or told her to be sure to write.)
But for the most part, it has been better than good. We have had many adventures – Chicago, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., among them. We have witnessed the thrill of victory – an NCAA soccer championship for the Carolina women; and the agony of defeat – Chicago Cubs playoff baseball. We have laughed ourselves silly while making Christmas fudge and gotten lost – on purpose – in towns large and small just so we could discover new places.
But soon, Kristin will leave for college – orientation was this past week – and her mother and I will be empty-nesters. Truth be told, I’m not ready for that. I don’t want to imagine coming home after work and not seeing someone I have pretty much seen every day for the past 18-plus years.
When my wife and I were preparing to adopt our daughter, plenty of veteran parents told us that a child would change our lives. My response was that I welcomed the change, and I did.
But all these years later, I can’t recall a single person telling me that my daughter going off to college would change my life. I wish they had, because I could have asked them how they coped. Frankly, I’m not doing too well, and my daughter hasn’t even left yet.