Letting Go

I am a control freak.

I like to have a plan, to chart a course, to figure it all out.  Moving to London was a plan.  Keeping my children home for high school was the charted course.  I had it all figured out.

HA!  We plan, God laughs.

I am reading Anna Quindlen’s latest memoir, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake.  As usual, I am enjoying her observations and nodding my head with each page.  She has always been a voice I recognize, often putting words to thoughts that are my own.  This comment of Anna’s resonates with me:

Control is an illusion.  I imagined that I could chart a course that would take me from one place to another.  I thought I had a handle on my future.  But the future, it turns out, is not a tote bag.

Katie decided after Spring Break that the American School in London was never going to meet her expectations for high school.  Its highly transient nature and fragmented culture was not a good fit.  With resolute determination, Katie eventually won me over and persuaded me that boarding school presented a better option.

I went through all five phases of loss within the span of three weeks:

Denial:  This can’t be happening

Anger:   No way are you leaving!

Bargaining:  But next year could be a whole new experience

Depression:  How can I live without you at home?

and finally, Acceptance

It has been a wild ride. But then we all know that the roller coaster of life takes many surprise twists and turns that simultaneously exhilarate and nauseate, keeping us all just slightly off balance.

Next year, Katie will attend The Lawrenceville School near Princeton, NJ.  She could not be more pleased, and I could not be more proud.

Again, Anna Quindlen puts words to my thoughts as she writes:

Being a parent is not transactional.  We do not get what we give.  It is the ultimate pay-it-forward endeavor:  We are good parents not so our children will be loving enough to stay with us but so they will be strong enough to leave us.

I know Katie isn’t really leaving just yet, we haven’t crossed that bridge, but we will still need a pretty big bridge to cross the ocean that will stand between us next year.  I know she is strong enough to make the transition.  I just hope I am as well.

I agree with Anna’s clever remark that the future is not a tote bag with a handle that you can firmly grasp. Perhaps the future is more like luggage that you fill with good intentions and hope does not get too battered or lost along the journey but arrives safely at the desired destination.  The future is constantly in motion and flux, like a suitcase with wheels…

…the very type I will be packing up with Katie’s things.

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