The Hard Days of Parenting
The strains of Vanessa Carlton’s 1,000 miles song filtered through the airport. Of course, I’d have never known it was Vanessa Carlton but for my daughter Jessica. I stopped and paused.
I remembered her last month at home before getting married. It was time to move the piano—her piano. It was the piano she used during her teen years to work out her tears. She played with passion, swaying to the music, and she played…Vanessa Carlton. It was time to move the piano. I cried.
That was a hard moment of parenting. I remember another time. Well, not just another time, but the first time, we had to drop Ashley off at college in Chicago. (Frankly, I don’t know why they call it dropping off; it should be more like severing a leg—at least the first time.) Now we might have been fine, but in the waning moments of parent orientation some control freak mom asked the question that was on the mind of every parent: “So we are leaving our kids here in Chicago, a city of 5 million people, and what are you college people who haven’t invested 18 years of blood sweat and tears in raising our precious babies’ going to do to protect our children?” The answer was irrelevant. It was a long drive home. It was a first drive home—the first of a thousand goodbyes.
By the time we dropped our third kid, Nathan, off in some foreign land, it wasn’t so bad. But you know how it is—each kid is different, each kid is special, and well, makes your house a home. We knew it was the right thing to do—this letting go.
Each goodbye is a little different. We said goodbye to Joseph in the Denver International Airport. He had to leave during the middle of family vacation to report to school early for fall soccer practice. A new school. A new chapter. An uncertain future. I still remember him slipping from view as he rode the escalator to a waiting train.
1,000 miles. Vanessa Carlton. I headed to my gate ready to go home.