“You belong in a boat out at sea” – Tom Petty
My daughter moved most of her stuff out of the house last night. She’s 20 and working two jobs and well, it’s time I guess. That didn’t make it any easier to watch her go though. It was tough. My wife and I had a glass of wine. That didn’t really help. We made busy with household chores to distract ourselves, and then we had a second glass, and that did help… a little. She’s only moving across town about 10 minutes away, but it mine as well be Australia. The sting is still real.
At times it seems like your children will be with you forever, and you want them to be with you, and you get used to that familiar feeling of family and the highs and lows that go along with that on a daily basis. And then there are times where you’re ready to throw all of their crap on the front lawn and demand they leave. And then all of sudden, one day they do. They go. Those firsts – first steps, first words, first lost tooth, first bike ride, first girlfriend/boyfriend, first heartbreak, and first drive have suddenly turned into first apartment and first bills.
The house becomes quieter. The mood a little more somber at times. The mind becomes a playground for doubt and fear. Prayers are called out to combat the vicious lies… but are they? Did we really teach her enough? Did we fail her? What happens if her car breaks down? She has no savings! Were we very good parents? Will she get enough nutritious food to eat? Is her new place safe? Is she hanging out with the “right kind” of people? Oh man, I never got around to making that homemade shiv with her, and showing her how to use it!
Will she make it on her own? If she doesn’t, and ends up back at home in three weeks or three months or three years from now, what does that even mean?
I thought back to August of 1989 when I moved out of the house and into the dorms for my first semester of college. It was a Sunday afternoon, and I remember that I cried a little bit that day too as I made the 45 minute trip to St. Gregory’s College in Shawnee. I don’t remember my dad being home when I left. I’m sure he was on the road recruiting for the University of Oklahoma at the time, but my mom was definitely there. She was there as I backed out of my parents’ driveway in the ’84 Camaro they had bought me.
I wonder if she cried after I was gone. Probably. At least she still had my sister at home, but I was still the first and I was leaving. I wasn’t really gone totally. I was immediately back home that Friday afternoon after classes ended that day, and did so a lot that first semester away from home. Leaving and letting go of home is not easy on the child either.
“Go away somewhere all bright and new. I have seen no other who compares with you.”
Our daughter is one that has always forged her own path. As parents, my wife and I envisioned a different move that probably aligned more with our vision than hers. We thought maybe it would be into a college dorm (college just isn’t her jam yet), or maybe into a cute little apartment with her best friend. The move out wasn’t contentious, but it wasn’t exactly like what we thought her moving out would look like. My wife envisioned being able to help her pick out a place and help her move into it and decorate it. That did not happen. I thought she would live with us until she actually had some savings and some sort of plan for her future. That really didn’t happen either. One day it was “hey, I’m moving in with Ally” and over the course of about 30 days she’s made it happen. At the time, she had no job and 200 bucks in a savings account. Since then she’s worked three different jobs and is somehow making it work so far. That alone demands some sort of respect and admiration however painful it still may be right now.
It’s a new chapter for her. It’s a new chapter for us. Adjustments will be made and life will go on, but it’ll just be different now. She still has a world of possibilities before her. But one day and God-willing, she’ll be the parent releasing the child and thinking about how fast it all went, and maybe she’ll wonder if mom and dad cried after she had left this house those many years ago. We did.
“You belong somewhere you feel free. You belong somewhere you feel free.”
It’s not an 80’s song today, but close. Instead, it’s one of the great artists of the 80’s, Tom Petty with his 1994 song from the album of the same name, “Wildflowers.” The video below was a home recorded demo version of the song with video that was released posthumously in 2020. My daughter has a little bit of this song to her, so I found it fitting for today’s post. It makes me a little sad to watch Tom in this video and I do miss that he’s no longer with us. And I miss my daughter.
Thanks for the reading. Go hug your child, and if you don’t have any, go hug a random child. No, wait, don’t do that. Just go hug your mom.