Growing pains

When she was just a year old...

When she was just a year old…

Something big happened this week. Something that, even though my family talked about it, I didn’t see coming, didn’t expect, wasn’t prepared for.

Finding jobs near where we live has become next to impossible for teenagers. A downturn in the local economy means that all the jobs youth used to take are now filled by adults struggling to take care of their families. As a result, my eldest daughter started looking for work elsewhere.

On Tuesday, we traveled to my parent’s home, hours and hours away.

On Wednesday, my daughter interviewed and was offered a job with a local fast food franchise. She accepted it.

That night, I left her in the wonderful care of my parents–for the next few months. She’ll come home to visit only a handful of times. We’ve both had some tearful moments. I imagine the rest of the spring and summer will be that way, and she’ll come home completely grown up.

For a few days, I was heartbroken enough to not want to write. At all. That hardly ever happens to me.

Thankfully, she seems to be settling in pretty well. Her co-workers seem to like her, she likes her job and she loves spending time with her grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins. She has school work and her job, and she plays with her dog when she’s  not busy with school or work. Most likely the time will fly by.

It’s caused me quite a bit of introspection. Have I taught her the confidence she needs to face society without me? Will she find ways to be happy when she’s homesick? What tools have I passed on that will help her reach her goals? What bad habits that she’ll have to overcome?

I’ve been thinking quite a bit this week about life with her when she was tiny. She is one of the reasons I started writing. I wanted to be home with her, and with her siblings when they came along. I still needed a way to connect with the outside world, and I needed a way to help with finances, even if what I brought in was meager.

I wouldn’t trade it now for anything. I took her with me on all kinds of interviews. She traveled with me to towns I visited and wrote about for ND Business Watch. She came into shops with me, sat quietly in armchairs while I visited with people in their homes, followed me everywhere. We had fun. We still talk about the towns we saw, the museums we wandered through, the parks and the libraries and the rivers and the way tiny old shops on forgotten Main Streets became treasure chests.

Writing meant we were together.

Even during the hard times, the long days I spent away from home during legislative sessions, we were sometimes sneaky enough to find ways to eat lunch together. She pampered me on deadline weeks by sorting the laundry and starting the dishes, and I spoiled her when I could.

All in all, I think I got the better end of the deal. There’s nothing like just spending time with your child, nothing as wondrous as seeing them enjoy what you do.

And nothing is as difficult as letting them grow into their own thing when it’s time.

These are just growing pains. We may not be together all the time, but we have ways to keep in touch, and we use them often. As broken-hearted as I feel, I also feel that this is right. This is how it’s supposed to be.

I’m finally getting over the poor-me syndrome. I’m wanting to write again, and again, she’s a large part of my motivation. She’s old enough to really understand what it’s like to work, and I want to make her proud of me. It pushes me on.

I will always be grateful to her for that.

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12 Comments to “Growing pains”

  1. i remember the sorrow of an empty nest. Then it filled up again unexpectedly! Now that we are alone again, though, we were ready for it. But I’ll never forget the ache of loss for that first year without them.

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  2. I’m sure you taught her well and she’ll be back before you know it.

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  3. I’m here to feel sorry for you with you. I can’t imagine what it will be like when my boys grow up and leave the proverbial nest. If you wanna talk, cry, gripe, worry, I’m here:)

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    • Thanks! I am still having a few weepy moments here and there, but things are getting better.

      This would be a whole lot easier if she wasn’t such a great kid. 🙂 I’m sure most parents feel that way!

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  4. I can imagine what a wrench it must be but you sound to have handled it well. Feel free to indulge in a bit of poor-me, happy to listen 🙂

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    • Thank you. I think I’m finally getting to be okay with it…but I’m so glad for telephones and Google chat! 🙂

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  5. Reblogged this on Wyndy Dee and commented:
    So hard…my 16-year-old wants to get a job, thankfully she should be able to find something local. Hang in there mom, we’re here and rooting for you!! Hugs and Love!

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  6. This brought tears to my eyes! It is really hard when they grow up! I like the line “writing meant we were together” two of the biggest loves of your life shared with each other 🙂

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    • Thanks! We had some really great times. And it’s amazing how much we learned to love the places we traveled to, partly because they were shared memories.

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