I went to bed before 8 pm last night. My eyes were tired, swollen, and sore from crying.
The dam of tears welling up inside me finally burst when I called my mom yesterday and spoke all my fears out loud. I admitted that I am lonely. My husband and my youngest have been gone most of the last 2 weeks. Competing schedules have made it impossible to get together with friends. I am afraid of rejection for my daughter, in her rush to sorority coming up in a matter of days (no longer weeks). I am afraid of rejection for me in taking on a new business endeavor. I can no longer push these feelings away into the future, they are all suddenly here, now.
I am launching a new coaching business course at the exact same time my first born is leaving for college. It is bringing up every insecurity I ever had. I am reminded of every time I put myself out there and lost, failed, flopped.
There was the 6th grade speech contest Final Championship.
I didn't win and instead cried all the way through my speech about recycling featuring Oscar the Grouch as the trash can.
The Nutcracker tryouts. I wasn’t picked.
I wasn’t good enough even after smiling my show pony best and having individual lessons that cost my mom everything in time and money. They didn’t pick me.
High school Dance Camp. My best friend with no formal dance training was picked for the All American Team over me. She only knew about this camp because of me. Ouch.
Any sales deal I lost for any reason comes to mind. Every lay off that was or wasn’t my fault. Any boy that didn’t like me back. Any story I ever told myself about my shortcomings. Every failed friendship that ended. The mean words of every single person that doesn't like me and had something nasty to say about it.
Every single thing I’ve ever done wrong, all came flooding back to me this week, as I am days away from launching both my course and my daughter into the great big world.
The timing wasn’t intentional to be launching both of these things at the same time. It is a big undertaking, I see that now. In some ways, I wonder if maybe it was meant to be this way?
I firmly believe in raising my children to be as independent as possible. The last thing I want is for my daughter to worry about me as she heads off to college. I want her to have all the confidence going off in the world on her own, and guess what?! I can be here with all the time and freedom to explore my desires too. So many of my own callings were put on pause for years when my top priority was being there to raise my kids as a hands on, s-mother such as myself. With my children’s growing independence, I have been able to start a business that I believe in. I love this for me. I love this for them too. So maybe this timing of “The Launches” is perfect and symbolic too, even if it is a bit overwhelming at the moment, to say the least.
I woke up before my alarm today, after my long, restorative sleep last night. Within my first 5 minutes of waking, tears started streaming down my face again. I look at the calendar and count. 9 days. 9 days until my first born leaves for college. I take a deep breath. It takes me by surprise even though I know. I know. I have known. It's coming. It’s been coming. We’ve been planning for this since last spring and a lifetime before that.
The signs are everywhere. My dining room is filled with stuff for her new dorm. It started as her making a spreadsheet and listing out what she needed, and me trying to ignore it as long as possible. I finally broke down and bought her one thing. A fan. A nice stand up fan like she wanted, although it felt excessive to me, and I told her so. It also felt like a breakthrough of acceptance from me when I came home with it. I patted myself on the back for my maturity. She had been practically begging me to get with the program and I kept a stiff upper lip. I tried to whackamole all her ideas because I wasn't ready for them. I wasn’t ready to shop for her departure. I wasn’t ready to think about her leaving. I am not still not. I realized she was going with or without my readiness. I knew she was right. I knew what I needed to do so I lugged in that fancy fan she asked for, despite myself. Her face broke into the biggest smile, like she had been waiting for me to get on board with her excitement and I had finally arrived. I stored that fan in our rarely used dining room weeks ago. I walk by it multiple times a day. Now the dining room is piled high with stuff. I have watched the pile grow. I have ordered everything she’s sent me since. I stopped questioning it all. Lily knows what she's doing, she knows what she wants, she’s capable of making these decisions. She does the research. There in my dining room is everything she needs to start her new life 6 hours away from me in a tiny room with a roommate whom I have never met. “I’ll be fine”, I say as I fight back tears.
I was told by many people who I trust and admire, parents who have gone before me, that Senior Year is a roller coaster of emotions. I prepared myself as best I could. As graduation came, I slowed my workload so I could be fully present. I made extra time for self care. As someone who is over 5 years alcohol free, I have learned how to take care of myself in a big way, especially in times of stress. I added in yoga, walks, and reflection. I got through my daughter’s Senior Nights, Graduation, and her graduation party with grace. I surprised myself with my level of calm. I was proud of myself. Perhaps after all this time and sobriety I finally learned how to manage my emotions. “I am doing so well”, I told myself. A picture of peace, as if having less outward emotion is somehow a highly accomplished feat. As someone with impulse control issues and a tendency for toddler-like meltdowns, this really did seem like the level of monk like Zen I was going for. Yay me. Pat on the back.
This summer, emotions have been building in our home and in my heart. Mostly, she is excited. SO EXCITED. I am excited, SO EXCITED for her. A little jealous too, if I’m being completely honest. Her dorm room decorations are so darling. Bright, girly colors. She picked out the best stuff. Retro, bright, pictures of her campus in gold frames. Big fun shaped pillows to match. A pink coffee maker. A white ruffled comforter. Hot pinks, baby blues, and bright yellows splashed everywhere. She’s got the best style. Speaking of, her outfits for Rush Week are also adorable. I was never part of Sorority Life but I have friends that were and she’s got to recommendations and the desire to join. I fully support it. She will thrive in Sisterhood as she has thrived with her volleyball team through the years. I want everything for her that she wants for herself. I want her to have it all. Beyond belief I really, really do.
She’s going for her Doctorate in Occupational Therapy. My young, single mom went back to school for Occupational Therapy in the 70’s. It has proven the best career choice for her. I watched my mom grow, thrive, innovate, and heal in her time as an OT. It was the best thing for her, and in turn for me too. As a young girl, I watched my mom love her job and make a positive impact. I watched my mom take on leadership positions that stretched her. I watched my mom win awards. This was all good for my mom and also good for me. Lily will make a most wonderful OT. She is so smart and her heart is full to the brim with compassion. It also makes me so happy that she is following in mom’s footsteps.
It's good. It’s all good. It really is and I am so happy for her.
But the tears, they just won’t stop. They are streaming now. The lump in my throat won’t leave. For 18 years I have made it my top priority to keep her safe and healthy.
She is ready to spread her own wings. I have prepared her for this. She’s got it. I know she does. She has proven in a million ways that she is ready. I trust her fully. I want my little bird to fly, I really do. I know it's best for us. I know it’s necessary. If I am completely honesty there are even some things that might be better with a little space between us and not living under the same roof. Dare I say, there are even some things I am looking forward to in her absence. My office for instance, won’t have to double as a guest room. No asking her to pick this up or turn that down, things I say on repeat when living with a teenage bull in a china shop.
A part of me feels like I want to flip the script and give myself a survivor trophy because although she’s a gem of a girl and mostly made things easy on me, she had her moments and so did I. I survived 18 years of Lily, thank you very much! No small feat. Blood, sweat, and tears. Quite literally.
Yesterday, I needed a break from my computer and all my efforts on launching this course. Anyone who has launched a course, or completed a big project knows the effort and energy that goes into this. Dreaming big and putting dreams to action is not for the faint of heart.
I went to restorative yoga. I sat in the sauna. I made returns at the mall and I invested in some new makeup. I took my time. As I was leaving the mall I saw a new restaurant that I had forgotten about and wanted to try. The patio looked amazing on this perfect sunny day. Striped umbrellas and flower boxes in full bloom. I considered taking myself there for an expensive lunch alone. I was treating myself after all. The next thought I had was “ooh yes and you could order a big glass of chilled sauvignon blanc!” I could see that glass in my mind's eye. Chilled to an almost frosty state with the zesty zing of flavor biting my mouth and tongue upon first sip. The warm ooze down my throat. The immediate exhale of the edge being taken off. It’s so hard to be me. I needed some relief. Lunch alone with a glass of wine sounded so good. I went with that thought for about a minute. I let my mind play it out. You know what? That glass of wine would probably taste delightful, right before it ruined my life. I kept driving. I let that thought go. It didn’t take much and I don’t feel really at risk for drinking. Everyone once in a while, usually about once a year now, I have a craving that comes up like that. It takes me by surprise. Catching me in a weak moment of emotion and overwhelm was sneaky, but I have built my sober muscle over time. I can handle it. It’s over now. My life is still intact. Thank Goodness.
Going through the end of the school year with grace was great. I am proud of myself for that. Having a messy tear filled meltdown now is also great and I am proud of myself for this too. I know how to coach myself through this. I hear my own Coach Voice in my head. I have held the hand of so many through their toughest times, so I know exactly what to do and what to say. I am confident in my coaching ability. I say stuffing your emotions isn’t commendable. Being robotic isn’t the goal. You have to feel to heal. I think feeling meltdown-ish is a perfectly appropriate way to feel right now.
As a drinker I pretended everything was ok when it wasn’t. As a sober person, I admit when I feel lonely, scared, and sad. I let myself be the person who doesn’t have it together all the time. I reached out for help. I told my husband how I was feeling instead of hiding it. This is growth for me. He’s already planning our date for when he gets home. I took a break from my course launching hustle to go to yoga and lay completely still. I told myself any outcome of this new course is welcome and not to get ahead of myself. I remind myself of the service I want to offer new coaches. It’s not about my ego, but marketing it can feel that way. I call my mom and cry. I go to bed early. I wake up, journal, and cry. I cry as much and as often as I need to.
I do not drink. I do not push it away. There is nothing wrong with me for having a flood of tears 9 days before my daughter leaves for college and I launch a new course. I remind myself I am the best mom for my daughter and the best teacher for this course, because of my emotional capacity. My ability to feel the spectrum of human emotions is my superpower after all. I am a literal Emotional Quotient Genius, I have taken the test. These emotions are part of the entrepreneur journey and new coaches launching their practice need to know that. No one is following me for my perfection. Everyone is following me for my authentic, genuine, realness. It might be a bit messy, but Lily’s got this on her new adventure and trust me so do I.