I’m Not Worried


not worried

It’s that time of year, where parents have dropped off their college-aged kids at campuses all over the country and left them to fend for themselves. Of all of our close parent-friends, we have the eldest kid, a 19 year old Junior in college. “Weren’t you worried?” they say. I’ve watched them go through this; the worry of leaving them on their own, the worry of missing them. I totally get it, but I’m not worried. 

She was 17 when I left her in the Middle of Nowhere, Pennsylvania. Her roommate backed out at the last minute. She got two jobs, played lacrosse. She was largely on her own for a while, but I wasn’t worried. 

She’s in New Zealand right now, studying abroad and living in apartment-style housing. She has to buy groceries and make food, and budget and go to class. She has to be vigilant and practice self-care on the other side of the world. She has to navigate a strange city, a different culture, and a whole set of laws and social expectations. But I’m not worried.

I was sad to leave my baby girl and I miss her every day, but she and I have an interesting relationship. The truth is, I pushed her out of the nest long ago. I expected way too much of her, way too soon. We’ve had this conversation, and she tells me it’s fine and I loved her just right. That may be true, but I also loved her at a distance, long before she moved away.

Why? I don’t know. My theory is that I struggled through a difficult upbringing, teenage years, and young adulthood, with a good amount of abuse, neglect, and lack of support. I knew also as a woman, the world would be harder on her. You can fight me on that, but you won’t win. I thought if I could push her to be stronger and tougher, maybe she would suffer less.

Another way to look at it is that I’ve simply prepared her. I haven’t coddled her or given her too much instruction. She’s had to figure stuff out and she’s done a great job. So I don’t worry. My job was never just to protect her, it was to teach her how to protect herself and navigate the world. We’ve always said she could have been on her own at 12. 

Don’t get me wrong, she has managed her way through plenty of adversity on her own to make her strong. And I know she will continue to work through challenges, as we all do. But she’s designed differently. She’s a fighter. She will figure out how to survive. So, no… I don’t worry about her. It was never easy to leave her, but it’s beautiful to watch her fly.


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