I couldn’t wait to get out of my hometown in high school. I craved something different: a new life where I could start fresh and meet new people. I planned to go to college, then move to a different state. When people warned me I might miss my childhood town in New England and end up coming back, I thought, No, that will never be me.
My teens want to move far from home. I’m sad but I want them to live their best lives. (Twenty 20 @justingovender_)
But it was me. After four years of college, I graduated and moved to the South. I lasted three months before calling my parents and telling them I wanted to come home. I missed my siblings terribly. I missed the cooler weather (something I never thought I would miss), and I felt nostalgic every time I thought about my childhood.
That was twenty-five years ago, and I’ve never contemplated moving since. I live in my childhood town, and I’m sure I’ll be here forever. Now that my kids are getting older and on the cusp of moving out and starting a new life, I keep remembering my experience.
My youngest keeps talking about moving someplace far away. By that, I mean on the other side of the United States. My daughter claims there’s nothing to do in our state and wants a taste of city life. The closest major city is about three hours away. I am mostly happy for my children, and I really do want them to live their own lives.
But, selfishly, I’d like them to stay living in the same state as me. (Okay, I’d prefer the same street, but I’d settle for the same state). The thought of not seeing them every day, not having dinner with them most nights of the week, and being unable to be right there when they need me tears me up.
I realize this happens all the time. Parents worldwide have young adults who live far away, and they go about their lives. But right now, as they sit and talk about being a plane ride away, I can’t digest it, and I wonder how I will cope. Just the thought of it makes me feel a bit nauseous.
What if they don’t come home for the holidays?
How often will I get to see them?
What will my life look like if they live far away?
Every time I think about it, my mind spirals into overdrive, and I find myself trying to convince them to stay because envisioning them living far away is too hard.
I know I will need to figure this out. It’s not as if I have a choice — they are adults, and I’ll need to let them go when they are ready. And lately, I’ve realized I need to stop guilting them into staying local just as I need to stop hanging on to hoping their story will end up like mine.
Letting your kids live their own life can be one of the most challenging things as a parent. We’ve been around for a while, so naturally, we feel we know more than they do. Often, we think we know what’s best for them. But as they grow and come into their own, we don’t know the right path for them; that’s something they need to figure out.
My children aren’t going to live the same life I did because they aren’t me, and honestly, they don’t want to be exactly like me. They are my kids, not my possessions.
I know that when I chime in with my opinion, I am being selfish. I want their lives to be easy. I want to help them as much as possible. I want to have them close by so I don’t have to feel the discomfort of missing them. None of those things are what’s best for them unless it’s what they want.
I’m determined to shut my mouth and support my kids in whatever they want to do, even if it takes them far away from me. I might need emotional support to get through it all, but I will try.
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