A Grown and Flown friend writes: Last month I returned home feeling blue from a weekend visit to see our daughter at college. I barked at my husband on the car ride home. (That’s when I spoke to him. Mostly I sulked and read the NYTimes). I’m getting better, however, because this time the wave of sadness passed more quickly. When she returned to school recently after an extended winter break, I found myself teary-eyed and experienced separation anxiety all over again. This time I was angry at myself for still being upset when we left her. After all, my daughter is doing extremely well. She has adjusted beautifully. What’s wrong with me? When am I going to adjust to my new life in my empty nest without her around?
Part of the problem is that I so strongly identify with her, I sometimes feel like I can barely breathe without her. It doesn’t help that we look alike (or so everyone says) and that we are extremely close. And even though I knew this was coming, I failed to properly prepare myself. Anyway, for some clarity, and while I was not sleeping last night, I made a list of all the ways we are different.
She is soft-spoken, sweet and a bit shy. I tend to be louder.
She is generally even-tempered, and takes things in stride. I need lots of yoga to stay calm.
She is tall and I’m 5’3 on a good day.
She knows when she’s had enough. I prefer to drive myself to exhaustion.
She gets over things quickly. I can hold a grudge for years.
I hate to fly and prefer to travel by car to familiar places. She likes adventure.
I’m a notorious worrier. She thinks my worrying is over-the-top (it is.)
I love to hike. She won’t take a walk if her life depends on it.
I was miserable my first year of college. She’s loving it.
I like to follow politics. She follows football.
So you see, we hardly have anything at all in common! I shouldn’t have trouble focusing on myself and what I’d now like to do with my life, distinct from her. But in the meantime, only seven more days until her spring break – I can hardly wait! I’ll bet I won’t even notice when she’s gone back to school next time.