Roots and Wings

Teri Biebel Empty Nest

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It’s been a really quick summer. Too quick, in fact. Just two short months ago, 17 graduated high school. And in just 18 short days, I’ll be dropping her off at college. What the hell, time? Why are you going by so fast? Remember when I was in labor with her and you moved so damn slowly? I remember that, and I remember thinking “Oh God this is taking forever!!” Well, if I could go back and change that, I would. If I could make the time stand still, I would. But I can’t, and in just 18 days, life as we know it will change forever.

It was just seven months ago that I wrote this post about her receiving her college acceptance letter. Now we’re mere days away from that post becoming a reality. We’ve done the campus visit, the marching band audition and freshman orientation. Now it’s real, now it’s happening.

I’m almost ready.

Days before graduation, I cried. I literally wept in the darkness when everyone else had gone to sleep. How is this all happening? There’s no way she’s graduating high school. For crying out loud she was just in pre-K. I closed my eyes, for just a second, and when I opened them, she had put on her cap and gown and was walking up to get her diploma. Magna Cum Laude. I was so surprised at how well I handled graduation day. I believe I may have cried myself out in the days before she donned that maroon gown and walked in her 5” heels, literally towering over me in pictures. But I smiled in those pictures. There were no tears. I surprised even myself that day.

I could cry at the drop of a hat, but I’m really trying to hold it together. I think I’m doing an okay job of it. She still comes into my room at night, still wants me to play with her hair. We have had long talks about her future, and she asks if I’ll miss her.

I haven’t cried in front of her in a few weeks, trying to be strong, trying to appear as if I’m okay with it. I’m not, of course, but I’m hoping it will make it easier on her if I look like I’m okay with it. I don’t think she’s buying it though. She’s met me. She knows I’m an emotional person, and lately, an emotional wreck.

And I think maybe some of that may be rubbing off on her. She shocked me a few nights ago when we were online looking at move-in day instructions, what to pack, what not to bring (here’s a hint: no livestock, no firearms, no male strippers).  I told her she could finish up herself, that I was tired and going to sleep. She grabbed my hand and with tears in her eyes, she told me that this was really starting to become a reality. It’s really going to happen. “Yes, it is” I replied, choking back my own tears. And we hugged and cried. “Everything is going to change.”

It’s changing for the good. She’s ready. I know that she is. I’m not, but it’s not about me. It’s about her. My job was to get her to this point, to the point where she’s ready to fly away. On graduation day, a friend wrote this on my Facebook wall: “Roots and wings, my friend. That's what they need to live their lives and that's just what you've given her. You've done well with this one. Enjoy your tears!”

I have to believe that she has those roots and wings, and that I’ve done my job. Her future is going to be amazing, she’s full of excitement and optimism. I ache with pride. I will continue to cry in the dark over the next few weeks, but on drop-off day, I will put on my brave face. I will be strong. I will hug her tighter than I’ve ever hugged her, and I will leave her to use those wings. And I will pray that she makes smart choices. But above all, I will remind her of her roots. She will know that I love her unconditionally and that I couldn’t be any more proud of her if I tried. That I will always be there for her.

On the drive home I will cry. Uncontrollably. I will mourn for the passing of time. My baby is moving on, growing up. Yes I’ll be sad that she’s leaving, but I know that some of them will be happy tears for the bright and amazing future that’s ahead of her.


About the Author

Teri Biebel

Teri is a working mom of two teenage daughters. She is a writer, a ranter, a fan-girl and has a huge crush on Mike Rowe. Her work can be found in the New York Times Bestselling book I Just Want to Pee Alone, and you can find her on , and on her blog, .

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