Flying on their own

The talk in the car came rapid-fire. One minute my daughter would spit back the GPS directions on her phone, yelling for me to turn right or left, the next minute, my wife, her face scrunched close to her phone looking at apartment complexes, would ask my daughter if she had checked out an apartment building that we had just passed on the busy street.

My daughter has gotten a job in a far-away city from us and has started to look for an apartment. She’ll be able to work remotely from home for a while, but her preference is to eventually move back to the city. She spent a semester there in college and has a ton of friends in the area.

Since we were starting to lose our minds stuck at home, we decided to take a day trip recently and help her look around for possible areas to relocate. We wanted to keep it informal. She wasn’t ready to look inside. We just wanted to get a sense of various sections of the city and proximity to things that are important to her. In this age of Covid, the trip was a Godsend.

As the day wore on, though, I couldn’t help but notice how much fun my daughter was having. Her smile was a mile wide. Think exuberant, buoyant, cheerful, and jubilant. I could go on, but I’ll stop there.

A fact of life

I was happy to see my daughter’s smile, but the more apartment buildings we looked at, the more I started asking myself an important question: Why is it, that the things that make our kids happiest, make us, parents, so sad?

To prove my point, later that evening when we finally pulled into our driveway, I imagined her letting out a sigh, as if to say, “Oh, here, again.” I joke, but the moment actually brings happy tears to me. Oh, I’ve known this day would be happening for a while now. Our daughter has been patiently waiting to move back to the city. She’s achieved so much in such a short period of time. She’s ready.

I tried to show her the value of staying home, but she’s an adult now. She wants to live her own life, she wants to have her own experiences. She’s going to love it. I just can’t believe that she doesn’t think it would be fun to hang out permanently with mom and dad. We’re fun right? Don’t answer that!

Letting us down easy

It’s the same with our son. I would have loved for him to stay at home and get his degree, but he decided to enlist in the Armed Forces. He had other plans. I even tried a little guilt. I said to him one time: “Come on, mom and dad need protecting too?”

Yea, my lame attempt at guilt didn’t work out too well.

In any event, I guess that’s a fact of life. What makes you happy, causes worry for your parents. Despite it all, I’m grateful that our kids have been letting us down easy. They still try their best to come home or call us at special holidays and events.

Unfortunately, I guess that’s the way life works. You help them walk, so that, one day, they can fly on their own.

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