‘Letting our children go’ is a lifelong process for parents, one that we wrestle with again and again, and each parent has to wrestle with it in his or her own way. — Mister Rogers
My daughter is moving away.
It’s weird typing those words. I always knew there would be a day I would have to face this reality. But I thought it would be at 18 when she left for college rather than when she was only 14 years old.
And I’m sorry to those of you I haven’t told this to in person. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it on my own.
I’m conflicted in this decision. It didn’t come lightly. DQ came to me about it months ago, and I thought we had tackled it then. I thought I laid down the law enough for her to want to stay. But several new things happened and the subject was brought up again, this time with more urgency.
So what happened?
First, her boyfriend moved 3 hours away to Redding. Having wrapped her whole social life up in him, she found herself in foreign territory. She had no close friendships, a strained social life, and the person she used to spend every moment with suddenly nowhere around.
Second, she spent a really great weekend at her father’s house, spent some quality time with her new baby brother, and got back in touch with some friends she knows who live in Grass Valley, where her father lives.
Third, she insisted she needed a change of scenery so she could start fresh.
When she first came to me about wanting to move in with her dad, I considered it for only a second before I refused. But she was persistent that I at least think about it. She laid out some very specific reasons as to why this wouldn’t be such a bad thing, noting the Christian friends (ooh, she’s good) that she hangs out with up there, how she wants to get to know her baby brother better, and showing me a map of where she would be living if she were there – taking me on a virtual tour of the town through Google Maps.
She got me thinking.
The past 6 months or so have been really rough with DQ. Her teenage years have not been the most pleasant as she goes through her Jekyll & Hyde emotions. One moment she’s the loveliest of all people. The next, I have to keep my hands out of her cage or she’ll bite them clean off.
I also understand the need for change; the realization that so many mistakes have been made that the only choice is to begin a new direction in a new place. Of course, she’s a teenager. Mistakes are going to happen over and over again. My understanding of her need for a change of scenery goes hand in hand with my concern over the fact that she’s once again running from problems she’s created. This isn’t the first time she’s wanted to run away. She did this with her old school two years ago when the drama became too much to handle. Now she’s doing it again by moving to Grass Valley.
What if it happens again once she’s there?
Her father had the same concerns when we spoke on the phone today. We had a really good, bare bones conversation about DQ’s desire to move in with him. It made me feel a ton better to hear him raise all the same concerns I had about her – even before I voiced them.
What if she falls in with the wrong crowd there?
What if she pushes all of his buttons and makes him furious, as she’s known to do?
What if she gets there and decides she wants to leave again?
What if he can’t afford to have her there?
We discussed all of these at length. He was surprised I was even considering it. I kept asking him if he had any reservations, any at all, that it was ok if he did…
“Do you want me to have reservations?” he finally asked me with a chuckle.
“Yes!” I said, laughing as I admitted I wanted him to give me the out so that I could tell DQ “no” and let it be known I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.
At any rate, the decision has not been made 100% final. The Ex still needs to contact DQ’s proposed future school and find out what needs to be done to get her transferred there. And I put the caveat out there that I needed to talk to DQ’s counselor before it was a done deal. But admittedly, the decision is 99% a sure thing. I’ll be sending the Ex half of my child support check to ensure he is still paying off his back support while still being financially fair about it as he takes DQ into his care. I’ll visit every couple of weekends, making the trek over there to hang out with her. She’ll come back on holiday breaks, though how we do this so it’s fair for both kids is still a detail we have to figure out. We’ll also have to figure out how she’ll attend training weekends for the camp she’s on staff at. It’s all a bunch of messy details.
But strangely enough, I think I’m ok with this decision. I mean, I’m totally sad about it. It’s going to be weird not having her around. I’ll probably be totally depressed for the first couple of weeks. She’s the one who makes me laugh the most. She’s not just my daughter, she’s kind of like a friend. We have a million inside jokes. I mean, who’s going to quote every movie we’ve seen hundreds of times with me? Who will I watch Glee with now? Who’s going to have living room dance parties with me, or embarrass me with her totally dirty jokes?
But I also know it’s not the end of the world.
She’s moving 3 hours away, not across the country. It’s still unsure if this is a permanent move, or just until the end of the school year. We’re all keeping this open as a trial, with a minimum of 6 months time.
Perhaps a little space between me and DQ will be healthy. And, can I just say it privately here? Perhaps it will give her a bit of a reality check. Or not. But it makes me feel better to think so.
But beyond that, I know how important it is for her to get to know her baby brother. And in a weird Freudian way, I know it’s also good for her to get to know her dad better and be around him.
This could be good for all of us. We’ll see.