Over the past few weeks, many people asked me the following questions:
Okay stop! Here’s my answer.
I feel great! I know as a father, I equipped my daughter with the tools she needs to survive, to do the right things and make the best decisions for herself. I’m not expecting her to be perfect. I am expecting her to do her best, to reach out when she needs helps and has questions. Only the unexpected would make me feel nervous, sad and uneasy.
I’ve come to realize there are certain things I prayerfully expect to happen and certain things I prayerfully expect not to happen in my subconscious.
For me, my children graduating from high school, going off to college, trade school, one of the Armed Forces or entering the workforce is what I expect. Based on my upbringing and how I co-parented my kids, that’s the expectation. The option to sit home and do nothing is not an option. Taking the time to make something of yourself is important and what I pour into my kids. Whether they listen to me or not is a different story at times. I remember my parents pouring that same message into me growing up. Oftentimes I just wanted my parents to shut up because I was too busy being a kid. I’m quite sure my kids feel the same way about me at times. I just keep pushing because that’s my job as their Dad.
As for my daughter, she made the decision to go away to college. On many occasions, she and I talked about her staying local because it’s cheaper – selfish on my part. She had many college acceptances from all over the country – one being local with a nice scholarship attached to it. Of course, as a parent I wanted her to take that offer because it would save us a lot of money. She put the brakes on it all and waited until after the last day to make her college decision.
When we spoke about her choice again, I asked her why and she broke it down to me. My daughter said, “Dad, I need to go away to school.”
Without going into details, after she gave me all of her reasons why. I totally understood and had to back her decision (Dad exhales). My thoughts, she’s ready for this.
Moments of impact happen often in our lives to make us realize life will happen no matter how much we try to guide it. With kids growing into adulthood, parents have to learn to let go so their kids can find their way in this world. As hard as it can be at times, we have to let them go to become who they are designed to be.
I teach my kids to reflect on their past successes to give them the empowerment needed to continue being successful. Do they always do it? No – but I keep reminding them.
The weekend my daughter graduated from High School blessed me on so many levels. On Saturday evening, I watched my little girl march into the stadium soon to be a High School graduate. The moment of impact for me was the very moment she walked across the stage and accepted her diploma. As much as I wanted to – I couldn’t walk with her, she had to do it herself. Then she was charged to move her tassel from the right side to her left side (Dad exhales). That was such a great moment.
On Sunday morning, we went to church and I had the pleasure in watching my daughter perform a praise dance. Her performance to the song Destiny by Kevin LeVar changed my life on so many levels. It also allowed me to realize that my daughter is ready for her new endeavors. That made me feel even more confident that she pays attention to my talks and advice I give her (Dad exhales).
When my daughter entered her Junior year in High School, I began telling her that she will no longer have me as her alarm clock in the mornings to get up for school once she goes to college. She would just giggle and say, “Okay Dad.”
I don’t think she believed me. When she entered her four-week summer program for the STEM All Stars at the University she chose, I didn’t call her (another moment of impact for me because it was a change for me too). Needless to say, she used her phone as an alarm clock and wasn’t late to any classes (yes, another Dad exhales).
Now, she’s all moved in for the fall semester. This is where it gets extremely real that my daughter is truly away and on her own at college. I ask myself those same questions from above that so many people asked me.
“So, Dad, how do you feel now?”
I still feel great! I am a little sad – a good sad though. The kind of sad that makes me smile. The kind of sad that makes me jump for joy that my daughter is ready and more than capable of handling herself as she prepares for her future. The kind of sad that… Well, you get the picture. I’ve always told my daughter that she has the courage and heart of a lioness since she was a baby. She’s a bit introverted and has the guts to jump in head first when she makes up her mind to go after what she wants.
The advice I had to give myself was this:
Allow your daughter to find her place in this world and allow her to go there as often as she needs to go (Dad exhales).