03 Feb But can she rip out an attacker’s throat with her bare hands?!
And just like that, she walked away from the safety and shelter of us – and into the beckoning adventure of university life.
I went to take Little Daughter, our third child, to get settled in to her first year at university in a country far away from home. I had been dreading it. Worrying about so many things. Questions kept me up late at night, like – have we taught her everything she needs to know? Have we prepared her for all that she will face? What have we forgotten? What have we done wrong, where have we been lacking?
Sometimes having a powerful imagination can be a curse. Because I could clearly envision all the possible horrible things that could go wrong, all the dangerous scenarios that could hurt her, all the obstacles that could shatter this smart, kind and loving young woman. And it would be our fault because we hadnt prepared her properly.
I felt ill with guilt as I listed all the things we had NOT done with her. Like…she doesnt know how to fight or how to rip an attacker’s throat out or stab them in the eye with a pencil. OMG, WHAT KIND OF SHITTY PARENTS ARE WE THAT WE HAVENT TAUGHT HER THIS MOST BASIC OF SKILLS?! (Because everyone should teach their kids these things before they leave the nest, right?) Like…she doesnt know how to make a fire using two rocks or how to catch a rabbit and gut it to cook over the fire or how to build a shelter from sticks and leaves SO IF THE APOCALYPSE STARTS HOW WILL SHE SURVIVE WITHOUT FIRE AND FOOD?! The list continued…
And so I went with her to enrol for university, determined to guide her every step of the way. For my 3 days there, I decided. I was ready to speak for her, show her what to do, fill in all the forms, fix up her room, take her on a guided tour of her new city, meet all her teachers and scholarship officers (and tell them how vital it is that they bloody well look after my child and appreciate how amazing she is dammit 🤡). I was going to find her good friends and mentors, identify possible jerks and creeps (and I dont know, rip out their throats?), and survey the campus for safe/danger zones.
But something happened that messed up my plans.
Daughter met other international students – in the shuttle from the airport, in the corridor, at the student services office, in the cafeteria – and she introduced herself with a smile. Everywhere we went, Daughter made friends. She wasnt scared lonely or hermit-like at all.
We went to meet her scholarship officers, to the enrolment office, and Daughter spoke with confident ease – asking the necessary questions and taking notes. She very nicely but firmly refused my offers to go with her, and then she went to the bank, the faculty office, the accommodation office and more. She was efficient, organised, capable and assertive. Over the next 3 days, Daughter got herself enrolled and sorted out everything from finances to her laundry.
I stood back and watched while Daughter didnt need me and my help at all. I didnt need to speak for her, write for her, think for her or act for her. I called Darren and said, ‘I dont know why Im even here. She doesnt need me at all!’
At first I was a bit woeful sad that my “baby” was actually an adult . But then I was so very proud, and relieved. Because isnt this what we strive for as parents? To raise our children so that they can stand on their own, empowered with the knowledge and skills they need to walk their path, secure in the love that we have for them always no matter where they go?
I realised that all these months leading up to this day, I had been making the wrong kind of list. I had been so focused on what she has NOT learnt, or what she cant do, that I had forgotten all that she CAN do, all that she has worked hard to learn and the skills she’s acquired so far. And not just in the classroom.
Daughter has made it a priority to practise cooking, meal planning, grocery shopping for the family, laundry and so much more. She’s been working on budgeting and time management. She embraced school leadership roles and built her confidence. She knows what its like to stand up to an abuser, to bullies and to overcome adversity. She knows what it feels like to speak for what’s right, even when your voice shakes.
Yes there will be some hard days and rough moments in the year ahead. And she may not know how to make a #twoRocks fire, or how to rip your throat out – but she is so very ready to #slay this new adventure!
(And Daughter, never forget we are only a plane ride away if you need help with cooking a rabbit or stabbing someone with a pencil.)
Yes I cried watching her walk away. But woven in with the sadness, there is #ImFeelHappiness for her too, for all the amazing things she will do and the awesome experiences she will have.
I am grateful for my 3 days at Daughter’s university. It gave me the chance to see her take the first fabulous steps on this journey. It gave reassurance and some measure of peace to my heart that aches desperately as I miss her and pray for her.
(And reminded me that – hey Darren, we’ve done a pretty good job as parents! 😉😜 #notBad #tagTeam )