The Next Chapter
I have been busier than usual this past week. I received a visit from my older daughter. This was not the usual visit that I had been used to, like visits shrouded by a custody order that made it feel more mandatory than natural. No, as an adult, this was a trip that she wanted to do. Both of us know, when she returns home, she begins her next chapter, college. We begin our next chapter, Dad and adult daughter.
On the way from the airport, I told her how much it meant to me for her to visit. And as my readers are aware of this “problem” I have, I also told her that I think I am ready to stop constantly looking at all the photos of my daughters from their childhood, as if grasping to hold on just one more day. This is a huge time for both of us.
My daughters know of the absence of my father from my childhood, but we really had not had a chance to discuss how my father and I moved on, the impact we had on each other, and in the end, what it meant to us. There is a difference in this comparison though with my daughters, as they will not have the huge gap, of a childhood lost to overcome. We simply make the transition to the next stage of daughter/fatherhood. As I remained active and present in their lives post divorce, there is no lost period of time that needs to be dealt with.
I have spent quite a bit of time over recent years, having more serious level talks as they near adulthood, to better prepare them. You know, the good stuff, money, decision making, and of course boys. As my older daughter’s visit comes to an end, I am hoping that I have covered everything that I want to make sure that she knows.
I am psyched as for the first time, she will have roommates, and not her family. She is literally trapped with them for the college year. I have expressed to her, that there is a huge difference between getting along with your roommates, and liking your roommates. To give clarification to her, I used a television show that she watches, Big Brother, as an example. Being a college roommate is not about eliminating anyone’s favor, so there is no strategizing for an edge. All four of these students are equals, and will remain that way for the school year. Accept that. Respect that.
There is a lot going on that first few weeks. Adapting to class schedules, study habits, eating, and very important, sleep habits all need to be learned by everyone. And then of course, there is all the activities going on around campus to experience. Finally, ah, the big city, must explore. Best yet, she has no one to answer to, except herself, that is, as long as her grades support her extracurricular activities.
Her course schedule seems pretty decent and manageable. And if she keeps up her study habits when it comes to homework like she did in high school, her studying should not be affected. She has already been to the website, “Rate My Professor”, and found all of her professors, and saw some of the comments about each, some good, some not so good. My daughter seemed to focus on the one professor who clearly would be the most challenging for her, a challenge I am confident that she will meet. The professor is likely to be the most critical, the most demanding, and the least forgiving, and someone who will truly test if she is meant for this major. Her biggest issue to overcome, procrastination. I urged her to no longer put off for two weeks what was assigned today.
I have given her as much fatherly advice as I can, but probably the most important, “you will make mistakes along the way.” And just as I always told my daughters growing up to “stay a child,” I have told my oldest daughter, “it is okay to make mistakes on this part of your life. Mistakes are a part of learning, and fortunately, at this point in your life, they will not likely be big mistakes you cannot overcome.”
Finally, I told her, I will not call her everyday like I have the last eight years, but that does not mean that I am not thinking about her. I know she will be busy, and as an adult on her own, she will have her own schedule. I asked only one thing of her. That we make sure we connect with each other either by phone or Facetime at least once a week, likely a Sunday.
I will drop her off at the airport soon, and give her that hug that sends her off on her journey. As she begins her journey of being an influencer, I hope that I have had enough of an influence on her myself.
I am proud of who you have become, and will be even more proud of who you will be. The two greatest blessings in my life, I get to call both of you, my daughters.