The amazing duo of Kathy O’Malley and Judy Markey used to entertain listeners every weekday morning on WGN Radio in Chicago with their insight, humor and wildly creative antics.
Every year, toward the end of August, they produced a show called “Letting Go” – a three hour acknowledgement that it was time for kids to head off to college and their parents, moms especially, were going to need a big box of tissues.
The theme song of the segment every year was “Letting Go” by Suzy Bogguss which starts with the lyrics:She’ll take the painting in the hallway, The one she did in junior high And that old lamp up in the attic, She’ll need some light to study by. She’s had 18 years to get ready for this day She should be past the tears, she cries some anyway Oh oh letting go There’s nothing in the way now, Oh letting go, there’s room enough to fly And even though, she’s spent her whole life waiting, It’s never easy letting go.
Caller after caller would chime in to say they were on their way to drop off their oldest child for their junior year or they were on the way home after delivering their youngest and now realizing they would be going home to an empty house. Others would call in and tell Kathy and Judy that although their kids were only in grade school, they were listening and sobbing thinking of that day, way too soon, that they would be the ones trying to “Let Go”.
You just couldn’t listen to the radio show without indulging in a good, cathartic cry.
My oldest headed off to college 13 years ago. (EGADS! Is that possible?!?!) He selected a university that was about 20 minutes from home. One minor detail: his freshman year coincided with our relocation to a different state because of a job change. Walt likes to say he stayed home for college and sent his parents away. It was the best of all worlds. He got to stay in a city he loved and was very familiar with but he didn’t have to worry about his mom showing up unexpectedly on his doorstep. Win-win!
But seriously, do I seem like the kind of mom who would do that? Who, Moi? (Walt, you do not get to answer the question.)
Three years later my daughter flew the nest. Fortunately, she chose a university that was just a couple of hours away. Far enough to guard against surprises (see paragraph above) but close enough to come home for the occasional weekend or have mom and dad come to campus to treat for dinner.
Still, once Annie had gone to college, even though she was not too far away, our nest was empty and I was terrible at letting go. Peter, bless his heart, knew I’d be a puddle of a weepy mess after dropping our baby off so he planned a trip for the two of us. It was something to look forward to. And it did help.
I confess it took me some time to get used to the new reality, the quiet, the change of tempo in our lives. But I did. And you will too.
We work so hard to teach our kids to be independent and then they go off and become independent, leaving us behind. I call this a job well done. Our children have gone on to become fun, interesting and productive adults and I am crazy-proud of them.
Whether you are dreading your child’s departure or are already taking measurements to redecorate their room as soon as it is vacant, whether your student graduates and moves across the country for a new job or moves back home for a little while to get his feet on the ground, keep your eye on the prize. Independent kids and an empty nest has always been the long-term goal. The crowning achievement of parenthood.
It will be fine. You will be fine. I promise.
PS Three days after publishing this post, WGN Radio announced that the incomparable duo of Kathy and Judy will be returning to the airwaves. Read about my dance of joy here.Thanks for stopping by,
You Might Also Like: