In the past two days as I’ve said goodbye to Natalie, got myself weaned off cold medicine that made me feel like I was going to jump out of my skin, and drove 484 miles home, stopping occasionally for something made of potatoes and strong coffee, I’ve been worrying. Whenever Ken worried during the summer about all the little and big dangers of our daughter being on her own, I reassured him that she would be fine, but lately I discovered I have all the same worries, and they don’t have the good sense to spread themselves out over time.
I know from all I read, my friends’ sage advice, and from doing this once before with my older son, that it’s important to back away from the child slowly and give him/her space to make this new life. It’s essential to show my daughter that I trust her. All summer long, I felt like I was downloading into her everything I knew that she might need to know: how to balance a checkbook, how to walk in the city, the importance of priorities, and how she might learn as much as she can and be true to herself. Yet part of me would like to hover over her, watching, calling down occasional bits of advice (“Close the cabinet door!” “Please eat something for breakfast!”).
Last night I walked into my bedroom and heard what sounded like a helicopter. Figuring it was our ceiling fan off-balance again, I stood on the bed, trying to fix it, but Forest, right behind me, said, “Mom, it is a helicopter.” I stepped outside to hear a helicopter passing over. Let it pass, I told myself. I went back inside and didn’t call, email or text my daughter.