Another Story of the Empty Nest
Photo by Khaled Ghareeb on Unsplash
My daughter, with whom I have lived for all 21 years and 8 months of her life, is launching herself in 3 days. I am driving her to the college she is transferring to and I will definitely have to leave her there. OMG!
Yes, my house will be cleaner and yes, I won’t have to listen to the loud banter of online gaming at all hours of the day and night, but oh my heart, I will miss this girl.
She has an identical twin sister who was Baby A, first out of the hatch, so to speak, who left for college 3 years ago. That hurt was only softened by my baby’s happiness in stepping out onto her journey.
My Baby B was always more chill, more mellow, more open and less goal oriented.
Eventually that turned into the makings of a disaffected, disillusioned and disengaged teen, who felt second to her twin socially. She suffered. Intensely. She ate lunch alone most days. High School was bad and I sat biting my nails watching out for her oh so carefully. I talked to her teachers; I tried to get her a neuropsychological evaluation, I got her a therapist. I listened to the sound of silent unhappiness.
When she accused me of preferring her twin over her, I bought her a big sign that says, “You are my favorite!” and it hangs in her room still. I hated that she believed that for one second and did everything I could to let her know if was absolutely not true.
There were a few bright moments that showed me she still could rally that spirit of determination I had see in her when she got around to deciding she wanted something. As a high school sophomore, she got a job at a local grocery story the day she turned 16. Thus began her third space. She blossomed at this job, made friends and felt more belonging there than at high school and more personal freedom there than at home.
As a senior, she started making these very interesting decisions. She wasn’t taking the SAT’s or applying to colleges. She was going to stay home, go to community college, and figure out what she wanted to do with her life before she went for her B.A. You go, girl!
She went to her high school prom with a fun group of kids who all chartered a bus. She bought a beautiful gown, and splurged on professional hair, nails and make up. Amazing!
After high school graduation, and the departure of her twin to an out of state university, she started in on classes heavily bent towards the sciences, with an interest in endocrinology. After one semester, she realized science was not for her and switched back to psychology, with less science and math requirements.
But more importantly were the soft skills that she found inside herself. For the first time in her life, she made her own, new friends.
She began to see evidence that she was quite intelligent, a brand new thought that had never occurred to her.
She embraced her individuality and no longer lived with constant comparison of herself to her twin, where she always judged herself too harshly. Plus, she never divulged to any one in her new life that she was a twin. (Sometimes twins really need a break from their twin ship!)
She started going to the gym for the first time ever!
She started to own her body. She lost weight she no longer needed, became very interested in her sexuality and for the first time, dressed to show it off. I loved to see her fashion sense and how she costumed herself. Such a gorgeous young woman my baby was becoming!
She changed jobs from being a checker at a grocery store to working with kids with autism. She became a respected and trusted colleague and gained real skills working with these kids and their families. She experienced what it meant to take care of a young person who depended on her, and she did very well.
She became a proficient cook and hosted several really fun parties with her peers. She got into online gaming, a life saver during the pandemic.
I have seen her, when absolutely necessary, be able to clean up, despite her disdain for cleaning and her inherited from her dad, weak, executive functioning skills.
She claimed she only wanted to go to one of two local state universities and was resistant to applying to colleges outside of the area we lived in. I let go of doing campus visits but I persevered on the number and geographic locations, and she ended up being accepted into 7 of the 8 colleges she applied to (Cal!)
She ultimately chose to go to the school furthest away from home- 400 miles to be exact- which has the best program for her interests.
I am very proud of this young woman. I have seen her confidence grow. I have seen her mature. I have seen her apply her smarts, her incisive powers of deduction and her wit.
I put an ad in my girls’ high school yearbook about growing their wings with so much love so they could fly away to live their one precious life. She is ready to soar and will do great. I will miss her desperately and that is only right, as another nest becomes empty. Our babies gotta fly their wondrous flight!