Daughters, College and Nervous Breakdowns

I just took my oldest to College for the very first time. It was hard… harder than I had prepared for it to be. Jessica is my oldest, and one of two daughters. Leaving your daughter behind you in a dorm room a hundred miles from home is a milestone moment for every parent.

Move in day…

For dad’s with daughters… its more like a nervous breakdown waiting to happen!

For fear of drowning my keyboard into an electric fit of frenzied sparks and smoking ruin, I’m NOT attempting to blog just yet about the pain, anguish, love, pride, hope and joy that such a moment brings to a father. I’m not going to attempt to process what it feels like to watch as your 18 year old jumps out the family nest into the vast open sky of life. The emotion that sneaks up on you as your driving away from your little girl…willing yourself not to stop and go back and get her. 

It’s clear at such life moments you’re stuck. You can’t not go forward, and you can’t just re-wind…your entire life is forced to confront this un-stoppable reality.

That little child is no more… she’s all grown up!

A friend of mine, a therapist and counselor has a son exactly the same age and stage of life as my Jessica and he describes the process of parenting kids for a lifetime in his news column (Williamson Herald).

He expressed it so well, I’m re-blogging it today for all of you to enjoy 🙂

Thanks Ramon… well said.


COMMENTARY BY RAMON PRESSON: Second-guessing with your first-born

By wherald

Thousands of local parents of recent high school graduates loaded up cars and SUV’s this past week like small Conestoga wagons. Destination: Colleges inevery direction imaginable. This past weekend we hitched the horses to a borrowed Chevy Yukon and headed south to Alabama.

The irony is that the week leading up to you dropping off your freshman son or daughter at University XYZ where they’ll soon walk into their first-ever college classroom and receive a syllabus, you as a parent are cramming for finals. And your internal flurry has little to do with last-minute paperwork, supply shopping, or packing strategy.

Instead, you’re reviewing 18 years of material, 18 years of parenting and apprenticeship, and wondering if you’ve passed the test. Your new college student is excited or stressed about college life, meeting new people and making new friends, exploring new freedoms, taking classes, pursuing a major, pledging a fraternity or sorority, and decorating a dorm room. They’re driving toward a new life looking out the front windshield of opportunity. And you, the parent, are driving with your foot on the brake, desperately wanting this all to slow down, your eyes in the rearview mirror which offers a panoramic shot from giving birth to graduating this child from high school, and every major milestone and every minor but memorable pebble in between. A parent’s mind is a warehouse of stored film and now you’re re-winding and re-playing the epic movie marathon of scene after scene of a child’s development.

You re-live the first awareness of developing personality and giftedness. You hear the giggles, laughter and tears. You watch the parade of accomplishments and setbacks, cute early crushes and recent painful heart breaks. You remember vacations, sporting events, and arguments over chores, curfews, and homework. You smile recalling the sale of that first lost tooth to the Tooth Fairy and then grimace remembering feeling rather lost yourself several years later while you anxiously waited for x-rays or a lab report.

And then the camera shifts and you’re watching your acting role in your child’s drama. And there is a tendency to zoom in on doubts and regrets about your parenting. You wish you could completely edit some scenes when you were not at your best, or re-do a scene fresh from the vantage point of current perspective. You have regrets about missed opportunities, unrecognized needs, and unseized moments. If parenting were golf, you’d play a hundred mulligans.

You are being harsh and too hard on yourself and you wish someone would tell you that you really have been a good parent. So, look at me; I’m telling you. You are being harsh and too hard on yourself and you truly have been a good parent. And you still are because your job isn’t done yet. You will always be a parent. Notice that the floor beneath your feet is still a stage because this was only Act 1 you just completed. Parenting a college student and young adult is Act 2. Being an involved but not interfering parent to your married son or daughter, being and a goofy grandparent to their children is Act 3. So, your role in the grand play is not over yet. Your daughter still needs you and wants a relationship with you. Your son still wants you present and engaged in his life. He/she just needs you to go back stage for a quick wardrobe change before the curtain rises for Act 2.

Author and therapist, Ramon Presson, is the founder of LifeChange Counseling and the Marriage Center of Franklin, TN. www.LifeChangeCS.org  ramonpresson@gmail.com  www.ramonpresson.com  (Article Link – http://www.williamsonherald.com/home?id=81139)

Posted on: 8/24/2012

One thought on “Daughters, College and Nervous Breakdowns

  1. I remember being the daughter watching her hesitant mom and dad climb teary-eyed into their car and wave as the inside of the car filled with puddles. I kept the stiff upper lip until they turned the corner and I could no longer see my mom’s lip quivering. Then… the flood gates opened. It has been 19 years and I can recall that moment with perfect clarity. I walked shaky-legged back to my dorm and got into the elevator. Just as the doors shut a red-headed fella climbed in with me. His name was Brian White. He looked at me, smiled and said “First time away from mom and dad?” To which I could only nod. Brian was soon known to me as Whitey and he is still one of my dear friends who introduced me to many more people that made my college life worth living. They were there for me on the good and bad days just as I was for them. That day still brings a knot to my throat and isn’t my favorite college memory to recall but that day was the first day of really becoming an adult. Everything from laundry problems, burning the Ramen noodles in the microwave to a stupid boy breaking my heart… it was there for me to deal with on my own, with the fairly often call home from the pay phone in the dorm lobby. Technology has changed so that is in your favor. Just know that you have raised a brave, strong and smart young lady who will continue making you proud (and teary-eyed). I love you cuz and know you and Paige will love the new experiences that Jessica will share and if you are anything like my dad… there will be plenty of weekend trips to visit her!

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