Even though there are still three others at home, my stepdaughter’s absence is noticeable. Things seem a little different at our house, for the last week or so since my husband and I packed our car and hers full of belongings and made the legendary drive to Collegedale. Many parents and students have done the same, time after time for many years, even decades, before us. But it’s different this time. Because now it is our family.
Despite the fact that we, like all families, have plenty of sibling rivalry, more than once in the last week, I have heard, “I miss her. I miss her a lot.” There were even some tears over the event. On the other hand, one sibling now has a room to herself that was previously shared. So the sentiments are mixed.
And yet, the tears, the empty chair, the trek past McKee’s, pulling around Wright Circle—all are necessary aspects of a rite of passage into adulthood. They are part of our children trying out their wings.
Dr. Bietz, in his parent orientation meeting, warned against becoming “helicopter parents.” Even with her being nearly 200 miles away, it is hard not to hover. We want to know every detail about her class, about how the dorm is working out with her new roommate, about her job hunt, about who she has met and where she has gone and whether she got lost! But we cannot ask.
The hardest part of not hovering is the job situation. Unless she gets a job, she won’t be able to stay at Southern. And we realize many other families are in the same situation, so there is plenty of competition. We drove her around that first day to collect applications. Every conversation since then has included questions about the job hunt. As adults who have learned the hard way, we know that jobs do not fall into laps. We know that the early bird gets the worm. We know that persistence pays off. We know that Sundays are better spent looking for a job than shopping or sitting in the dorm.
However, we also know that wings fully develop only when used.