She's scribbling all over my blueprint!
My 18 year old daughter (a Freshman in college) texted me yesterday. "I have something important I need to talk about".
I felt myself getting hot and I started worrying immediately. I recognized this as my typical reaction and my typical response was to say "What's wrong?" as I work myself up into a state extreme anxiety. But I didn't do that this time...
I stopped and decided NOT to give energy to these feelings...yet. I needed more information.
I texted her back and honestly said, "My stomach just did a flip, what's up?
It turned out that she was hoping to change her plans for Thanksgiving. The original plan was for her to fly home but she was hoping to fly to Texas and surprise her boyfriend instead. Now I wasn't worried, I was appalled! What! No!
Again, I had to practice shutting my mouth and letting myself feel without reacting. This was hard! I started processing what this meant. Why was I feeling appalled?
A little background: My daughter and her boyfriend are high school sweethearts. They have been together for 3 years. He is a year ahead of her and is a Sophomore in college. In the early stages of their relationship I didn't allow myself to get to know him very well and didn't encourage their relationship. I think I was protecting my daughter (and myself) from the inevitable pain when she became a statistic of a long distance relationship. But they survived and are going strong.
I realized some time ago that it was very beneficial for everyone if I supported them in their relationship. I would rather cultivate good feelings all around than live in a constant state of worry. The negative feelings don't help anyone! Nothing I say will change how she feels about him. And, it turns out he is a really good guy and I like him a lot! So again, why was I feeling appalled?
I needed to get to the bottom of this.
In order to buy some time, I asked her to look into the cost of changing her ticket. While she was doing that, I created a "Yes to Texas" list and a "No to Texas" list.
On the "Yes to Texas" list I wrote the real honest reasons that I wanted to let her go:
I value relationships (mine with her and theirs)
I want her to be happy
This is an experience she will always remember
I want to be supportive of her desire to make someone else happy
I don't want to feel bad for holding her back
On the "No to Texas" list I wrote:
Money? She didn't "earn" it?
I want to see her!
They will probably have sex and I don't want her to get pregnant.
What would everyone else think? (His parents, my parents etc.)
My husband and I discussed things. He had similar feelings. I realized the biggest reason I felt "appalled" was because she was trying to change the "BLUEPRINT" I had created in my head about how things were going to go this Thanksgiving. She was supposed to be so homesick and want to come home. She was supposed to see us in the airport and run to hug us. She was supposed to be so happy to see her pets and her room when she came home. She was supposed to be making green bean casserole and sitting in her spot at the table on Thanksgiving. She was supposed to be eating the apple crumble pie and ice cream she specifically requested for desert. We were supposed to have great conversations and play cards and enjoy our time together.
She was scribbling all over my blueprint.
Being open to letting her go was profound for us. We decided to try and take the emotion out of it and focus on our values. We value family, relationships and traditions so we were having a really hard time with this. On the other hand we also value life experiences and making wonderful memories. This would be something big and special that would never be forgotten. It seemed bigger somehow. So we started to wade in a little farther.
We value honesty and openness so we insisted that she get permission from his parents. We asked her to use her money to finance the difference in cost so she would feel the impact financially. We were concerned about safety so we asked her to think of several "Plan B" options just in case things went wrong during the trip.
This is going to be her first "solo" big trip. We realize that our little girl is growing up becoming an amazing adult and we have to allow her to flourish. My favorite quote about children says: "Treat your child as if she is already the person she is capable of becoming". Here is one of those times. I am going to lean into it.
In the end the details were worked out and she will be going to Texas. She feels torn and cried when she realized she really won't be coming home. I am so PROUD of her and who she is becoming. I will miss her terribly this Thanksgiving but I would rather watch her THRIVE than be selfishly stuck on "MY BLUEPRINT".
I'll keep you posted. :)