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Leaving Home: Raising My Teen To Fly Away Is Bittersweet

Growing Up and Moving Out After Graduation

As I sit here looking online at graduation announcements, prom dresses, luncheon venues, and my dwindling bank account, I feel the feathery fingers of panic brushing at me in spite of the excitement. Have I taught my teen everything she needs to know as she takes this next step into her future? Am I ready to watch her find her way around the things she doesn’t know, yet? She’s so good.

She’s better than I was at the same age. My daughter is focused on school, passionate about photography and art, responsible, and respectful. I’ve imparted the wisdom that I have earned as I navigated my own way through a broken home, becoming a teen mom (to her), getting married way too soon, getting divorced, and being a single parent to her and her two sisters. I’ve tried my best to show strength, perseverance, forgiveness, and most importantly, love. I made sure that there was singing, stories, and silly dances. I’ve taught her how to make a mean grilled cheese, scrambled eggs, and spaghetti.

Out of necessity, she has learned the value of a dollar, as we have always been on a fairly tight budget. So, she also knows the value of splurging on something special now and then, which is equally important. She’s watched me, listened to me, asked me, and trusted me for almost 18 years. I know that I’ll always be her mom, and chances are she’s always going to need me, but the inevitable process of letting go has begun and I find myself hoping that I have given her everything she needs as she is leaving home and welcoming this exciting new chapter of her life.

Is She Ready To Leave Home?

For instance, does she know not to go shopping late at night alone and to always make sure she has her keys out and ready before walking across the parking lot to her car? Have I remembered to tell her not to walk away from her drink in a public place or take one from a stranger? I know she’s a smart girl, but there’s so much out in the big world that she hasn’t come face to face with, yet. I mean, she’s smart and responsible, but that doesn’t mean she can see the ketchup bottle that’s right in front of her on the shelf, know what I mean?

She and I have always had the running joke that she’s never leaving home, especially during her less observant and clumsy moments. I know that it’s not true, though I don’t mind keeping her close a little longer. But the enormity of that realization overwhelms me much more than anything did when she was first born.

People often make the statement that babies aren’t easy, that having a baby is this hugely complex and life altering experience, which it is. However, where I am now is much more intimidating. The day she was born, there were years ahead of us to teach her everything she needed to know to find success, avoid pain, and follow her dreams. Now, it feels as if those days, those opportunities, are numberer. I will soon find myself sharing any wisdom I haven’t yet imparted on her through text messages and a weekly phone call or two.

My Daughter Leaving Home

The good thing is that we’re close. We’ve managed to find that area where I’m still the parent and she’s still the child, but we can talk about almost anything. She comes to me for advice. When she’s troubled, when she’s happy, and when she needs an answer for what’s happening in her life at the moment. My hope is that she will continue to do so after leaving home, despite the busy and new life that awaits her. It has been an honor to watch her grow into the young woman that she is today. I know that the next eighteen years hold new reasons to celebrate, bigger accomplishments, and many trials and triumphs. I am excitedly – and nervously – looking forward to seeing her discover who she is and where she’s going.

Marisa McCrae is the mother of three girls, two teens and one up and coming. She lives in Georgia and enjoys sharing her life with others through blogging. 

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