My oldest child leaves for college tomorrow. I am surprised that I don't feel sad at all, I think because she is so excited, I enjoyed my first year of college, and I am just really happy for her.
It is kind of blowing my mind, though. She turned 18 a few months ago, but nothing really changed in our daily lives. She still lived at home, I still cooked and cleaned, Dad still paid the rent and bills.
But it feels like tomorrow will really be the beginning of a new chapter. I doubt she will ever want to live at home again (she's been waiting to leave since she was 9) and if she ever needs to live here again, it will definitely be under different terms.
I remember for me leaving home promised the possibility of finally really knowing who I am and what I think/believe/want. Somehow I knew that being around my parents shaped me so much that I couldn't know my true identity.
Now, 23 years later, I realize that a person's identity is always going to respond to external circumstances. Our only control is to make choices about what and whom we surround ourselves with, so that during those times when we cannot choose, we can easily recall who we want to be and stay true to that identity.
When she leaves, I will become a different person again as well, since she will not be moving in my immediate sphere anymore, at least for a while.
For some reason, some Tom Petty lyrics have popped into my head: "Into the great wide open/under a sky of blue/Out in the great wide open/A rebel without a clue" Perhaps more relevant than anyone would care to admit!