A letter to my daughter- on leaving the nest

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My daughter is currently nine years old.  It has gone by so quickly, so I know that the next ten years will fly by just as fast. I wrote her a letter; perhaps I will even give it to her when she leaves the nest.

Dear Maggie,

This entire letter is based on the assumption that you and I have survived the teenage years, learning to drive, and the beginning of dating. Well, really I worry about you and your father surviving the learning-to-date period. I will be there to console you when you get dumped, because it happens. I promise to try and bite my tongue and not ask Daddy to go ‘take care’ of that boy for us. I will try.

I know this is hard to believe, but one day you will want to move out and get a place of your own. I know right now you think you will live with us forever. You have even gone so far as to see if there would be enough room for your future husband to live with us. Sometimes you think about finding a house down the road. Right now, you can’t see any other place as home. I promise you will. It may be in a fit of rage at how vastly unfair Mom and Dad are being. It may just be your heart telling you that it’s time. It will probably be for reasons I won’t understand, if I know you.

Then, one day after you move out, you will call your place home. It will hurt a little. I promise when you realize “home” is no longer with Mom and Dad, your own place will be. I will be here to hold you while you mourn that loss. I will probably cry with you, too.

It is my hope that you will go to college. It’s not for everyone, I know that—perhaps a trade school instead? I hope by this time we will have instilled in you how very important it is to be educated, to never stop learning, to never stop questioning, and most of all, to never stop reading. However, a college education will make life a lot easier. It opens doors to you that would otherwise not be open. Even doors for paths which you’d never imagine would need degrees. Seriously. Take your time deciding which path. Perhaps one area has many paths. I hope by the time you are dealing with this, we have taught you how to make your own decisions—and not just do what your friends are doing. As much as you love your BFF, her path is not necessarily yours. And that’s okay.

Just…please do me a favor. Get a scholarship or two. Or five. ‘Cause that stuff is crazy-expensive.

While you’re getting your education, whatever it may be, I hope you will explore a little, too. Hopefully all the long hikes we’ve gone on will continue, and will inspire you to go exploring for bigger and better trails. You have such a natural love of nature and exploration, and I hope you’ll continue to foster that. Go see stuff, but of course, always let your mama know where you are. Don’t make me attach a GPS chip to you…you know I’ll do it. In a heartbeat.

When you do pick a career path, know that it’s not written in stone. You do not have to do it the rest of your life. It’s a nice thought…it just doesn’t always happen that way. Mommy enjoyed teaching for years—until she didn’t. Mommy enjoyed the criminal justice field for a few years—until she didn’t. It may be that something you have an interest in is not a good fit for a career. It may be that something you thought you had no interest in turns out to be a great career path. All I ask is that you keep an open mind, and if you’re not happy and fully loving your job, move on. If you’re not happy at what you’re doing, you’re not thriving. I want you to thrive above and beyond my wildest expectations.

I would say to not get all drunk and crazy while you’re doing this, but that is not realistic…and truthfully, it’s a little fun. It is a growing experience that you need to go through, even if I don’t like it.

Princess, just know that no matter how high you are, how drunk you are, you can always call Mommy and Daddy for a safe ride home. We won’t discuss it that night…I may even let you get over the hangover. Maybe. Know that taking the responsible step of calling for a safe ride makes me less upset about it happening. I can’t promise to not be upset; I know I will be. Please, Princess…just call.

I know this is not the normal recommendation, but live with someone before getting married to them. I would say you should do this for at least six months. You will learn a lot about them, a lot more than you would learn on a date, or just hanging out. I promise if you keep an open mind, you will also learn a lot about yourself, too. Some may say you’re living in sin, but we just don’t buy that. Your father and I lived together before we were married. It allowed us to iron out some of the issues; for us there was no breaking point. If the first one you live with isn’t the one, then learn from that and move on. I know, you will be heartbroken. Grieve, cry, scream, eat tons of ice cream, burn his/her pictures. Then, pick yourself up and go back at it. Say, “Now I know.” Baby, there will be no questioning when you find THE ONE. If THE ONE happens to be another girl, know that your father and I are totally okay with that, too. Love is love, and when it is soul mate-love, there is no arguing with it. Embrace it. We will embrace you, always.

Okay, I have to stop a minute and mop up my ugly tears, and blow my nose a time or two. It’s a mom thing. One day you will understand. Sigh.

As much as it pains me, yes, one day you’ll have kids of your own. I promise not to say that I curse you with a child just as you were. I will, however, be quick to say, “Oh, yes…you did that too. Drove me crazy. Fun, isn’t it?” And then I’ll laugh and walk away. I probably won’t walk too far though, because hello! It’s my grandbaby! I may have schooling in Early Childhood Education. I may have raised you. I may have doted on all my friends’ babies. Princess, this parenting thing—no one can tell you how to do it, despite searching for a manual and reading a lot of books that suggest the right way. I can’t find that manual. I will be there to listen, to understand. I will try not to laugh too loud at the whining of lack of sleep. I would say that I will try not to snicker when your child poops all over you, but we know that’s not going to happen. You will probably have to help me off the floor from laughing so hard. I will be there for you, even if I’m on the floor laughing. I will support you as a parent.

Hopefully, your life will go: college, job, marriage, then kids. There is a lot of learning and growing that happens along the way. However, I know—oh, boy, do I know—that is not always how it will go. Perhaps this is your path. It may be completely different from what I want it to be, and that’s okay. Maybe. Okay, yeah, yeah. It’s okay. It is your path, not mine. Mommy may forget that from time to time, so remind me, okay?

All that said, it is still debatable if I will even let you out of my house, let alone out of my sight. And don’t worry…I do, in fact, plan on living forever. If my plans don’t work out though, know that I will always be here in spirit. Yes, my child, I do plan on haunting you. But a nice haunting, not a scary one.

Phew. After that, I’m so glad all this is at least—at LEAST—ten years away. I need that long, but probably longer, to get used to the idea.

You will always be my baby, and I will always love you to Pluto and back!

Slobbery kisses and squeezy hugs,

Mommy

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