Letting Go: Back-to-School Edition
After a mother carries her bundle of joy into the world, there is an instant connection and an overwhelming feeling of protection that comes into play. They think about shielding their children from all the worries and pain of the world. But what happens when they must send their children off to better themselves as a part of become upstanding citizens?
Since back-to-school is under way, Outlook decided to explore the different emotions parents experience when it is time to send their children to the different milestones of education.
For Jeanette Lewis, the feeling came a bit late. Her daughter, Jada has been in school from she was 18 months old but the pain of separation did not come until two weeks ago when she was sending her off, to her second year at the Armand Hammer United World College of the American West in Montezuma, New Mexico.
"Saying goodbye to her at the airport when she went back to school on August 10 was the hardest. It took me by surprise because I have not felt such anxiety in a very long time. In addition to the tears I shed in the car park of the Norman International Airport, my tummy hurt and burned. I sat in the car for about 30 minutes before I could drive back home from the airport," Lewis expressed.
"When my brother and I took Jada to her new school for the first time last September, I didn't cry much at all - in fact, surprisingly very little. With the welcome from the school's president, her 'roomie' and the other second-year students being so wonderful and reassuring, I didn't feel it then. Jada was so happy to be there and was immediately comfortable with her new community. When Jada came home for Christmas last December, I was so busy encouraging her when she expressed reluctance to go back in January, there was no time for my own feelings about her leaving to come into play. In any event, we both knew she was participating in an amazing life-changing experience that quickly superseded any sadness about leaving home again," she continued.
This time around, the goodbye was literally a punch in the tummy for Lewis. Jada was so happy to be returning to the school community she now loves. Lewis believes her anxiety rests in the most certain knowledge that this time she was saying farewell to the Jada she knew for the last 17 years because when she returns home in December, she will have turned 18 years old - a young adult.
According to Lewis, her baby is no longer a baby. "Our relationship as mother and daughter has changed. Our bond will still be there but in a different way (that) we both have to get used to. So maybe my tears and anxiety were a 'FEAR-well' to what has been. I am grateful that I have the support and example of my sisters-in-law who have navigated these waters with their own daughters, and can help me through my own experience of this profound transition in our mother-daughter relationship. Whenever I feel verklempt about my daughter being away from me, I think about the amazing young lady she is becoming and who I look forward to getting to know," she shared.
Nicole Phillips, a first-time mother, felt her first pain when she sent her son, Yohan to pre-school and is now concerned about sending her four-year-old to pre-school.
"It was nerve-racking because being that Yohan would be the first black child in the school, I worried that he would be neglected but being the talker he is, Yohan warmed up pretty well. I find myself no more concerned for my daughter, Kate. She has not got as much exposure as Yohan because she spent most of her time home with her grandmother," Phillips told Outlook.
She went on to express that she is a bit excited because this milestone will signify that Kate is getting older and independent. She still worries about how Kate will interact with others and the thought of her being abused by the hand of a stranger.
This is not the first time Tamika Tomlinson* is sending off a child to high school but though she has experienced it before, she said the anxiety remains.
"I'm excited for him, but I'm (also) anxious. Now he has to matriculate and adjust to a different system. I worry sometimes for him because though he makes friends, he takes some time to warm up," she expressed laughing.
Tomlinson is excited to see how things unfold in about two years and what he's going to be like.
Name changed to protect identity*