My First Child is About to Leave the Nest

The countdown is on. My eldest daughter leaves home for university in 37 days. I’m supposed to feel excited and proud. I am, but she’s my right hand, the organizer, the calm, logical antidote to my constant chaos. I can’t imagine every day life without her presence.

The separation from us, the family unit, started awhile ago, two years to be exact, when she wanted to go out all the time, choosing friends over family. I know this is a normal part of growing up and I remember my teenage years when the most important thing on my mind was the next party. Yet it feels like time is the wind sweeping me along. I can barely keep up, the years flying by so fast that I want to shout, ‘stop a minute. Let me catch my breath.’ The mirror shows me grey hairs and a few lines and I think in cliches. Just yesterday my daughter was born, eyes wide open taking in her new world. Just yesterday I was young, teaching her to ride a bike, watching her in swim class. We came to Canada just yesterday. She was five and she looked around on the way from the airport and said, “this country has no colour.”

I dropped her off at preschool just yesterday. She went to Rainbowland in Kingston, Jamaica. I saw moms sniffling, unwilling to let their babies go. I said goodbye to her firmly, rolling my eyes judgmentally at the teary-eyed mothers. “Just get on with it,” I thought, “this is life. My child is going to be completely independent.” I didn’t want her to see me cry, thinking this was a sign of weakness. So I set about teaching her what I thought she should know. I told her to question everything, to make her own decisions and accept the consequences, to do her own laundry (from age ten) and to not depend on people. I taught her to be responsible and independent. So why am I so surprised that she doesn’t seem to need me now?

In 37 days, I’ll drop her off at university. I’m no longer the judgmental mother. Perhaps someone will be rolling their eyes at me because I’ll be crying and crying is not a weakness. I’ll miss her. The house will feel different, a little more empty. I hope she still needs me. I know I need her. The countdown is on and perhaps that’s why every day has a tinge of sadness.

4 replies
  1. Wyss Karin
    Wyss Karin says:

    I know exactly how you feel, you want them to grow up find their own way but it is hard to accept the day they really move further from family life to their own …be confident, I’m sure you prepared her for life and she will always be part of you.Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Karin

  2. Stefan Moser
    Stefan Moser says:

    Hi Peta-Gaye,
    We know this feeling. Our daughter Sarina left our family two years ago and flew to her boyfriend in Australia. But we survived. We spend less time together but its an higher level of quality!
    Love and greetings from the cabbage-land!

  3. WyssJenniwyss
    [email protected] WyssJenniwyss says:

    This has brought back so many memories and I too am teary eyed as I remember your going away to university.How can you tell her that her hurts will be yours,her disappointments will also be yours as she ventures out into this challenging world.
    With the love and guidance that she has had from you both she will be successful in all her endeavors.Their is so much to look forward to in the future.

  4. Barbara Hanson
    Barbara Hanson says:

    Peta-Gaye: Never has there been a more lovely girl than Reine. I can completely understand how much you will miss her. When Sarah first left for school, I was a wreck, but I think we became better friends and appreciated each other more. And don’t think that her leaving will make the others going away any easier. It hurts every time. But you will be a proud Mom, I know. You’ve done a GREAT job with all your kiddies!!

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