Read a book? Indulge me for 5 minutes and see what I mean.
Today we left Big One at her new University and it was hard. I had so many thoughts of sadness and things that we had done ‘for the last time’…and then I decided to think positively and my mind kept swirling around the number five. Five minutes, five memories, five pieces of advice…and so I’ve combined them here for you. Indulge me if you will, and enjoy these if you can.
Five pieces of advice with the goal of having a successful send off when your child moves away.
- Be the best mom you can be. Not perfect, not like someone on t.v., not like the mom you see at school who seems to be doing something you can’t do. Be the best you can be. That’s the thought I’ve had since the day she was born. 18 years of thinking this and being gentle and kind to myself when I made mistakes along the way. Always keeping in mind that I am doing the best I can to be the best mom I can – thinking, and reading, and asking others, and watching Big One to see how I am doing – and then adjusting where I can to be even better the next day.
- Expect her to be the best she can be. Put it out there. Expect a lot, and show her. Let her know you believe in her. Give her tools, and words, and help…give her support, and love, and family. And when she does well, praise her – a lot. And when she makes mistakes, be gentle and kind to her. And remind her what the expectations are, and that you know she can do better tomorrow. Keep showing the love, and make the disappointment about the act and not about the child. Don’t ever say you knew she couldn’t do better. Raise the expectations when she is ready.
- Give her connections. Connect her to family, and her friends, and your friends, and her community. Connect her to the schools and to the world. Connect her to reading where she can find many interests and learn and expand. Remind her of her connections and help her maintain them. Drive her places to help her stay connected externally, and make your house inviting so her connections are also part of your world.
- Establish rituals. It doesn’t matter what they are, just make sure you have them. Little ones are as impactful as big ones. How you wake her up, how you say goodnight, taking photos on the first day of school, a favourite meal of chicken and rotini alfredo, the mug she drinks her hot chocolate from, nicknames you use for her, and dishes you use on holidays. When we have company at the house and we have said good-bye, we always walk to the front window and wait until they are safely at their car and wave again. These rituals start slowly and take hold, and they notice and they care.
- Phrases you use. These are fun and sometimes funny, and you often lose the context for how or when they started. She knows to expect them, she can finish the phrase when you start it, and they remind her of your thoughts and dreams for her as well as keeping her connected in verbal ritual. So really, the phrases wrap up the previous four items into one big bubble of love. A few in our house include:
- See you in the morning, see you in the evening, see you in the summertime. (said at bedtime – any person can start it, and any person can end it, but you always know it needs to be said)
- Have a great day. (why wish someone a good day when you can send them off with wishes for a great one instead?)
- Don’t be famous for something anyone can do. (This started as encouragement to strive for things that are hard to achieve – good grades, good manners, appropriate dressing and language, being good at your job, giving back to your community. Don’t be famous for being the kid who was always late to class, who slacked off at the job, who got drunk and acted stupid – anyone can do those things.) In our house, we just have to say – “Don’t be famous…” and everyone gets it.
- Read a book. (In our house, this evolved from her wanting us to read a book to her when she was young and now means spend some time with me, sit beside me, and let’s connect. It also means – I know you, and you know me. We’ve been in this together since the beginning.) Always brings a smile.
Each year has been amazing with this Big One. There’s every reason for me to believe the same will be true for the next year. And as we said good-bye today and walked to the car, I turned around with a wistful look and saw her looking out the window and waving. Bubble of love indeed.