It's been exactly one week since we dropped off my oldest daughter at college. Nothing can prepare you for this joyful yet sad milestone for our family. As a parent, there is the euphoric buzz of pride in knowing that your child has demonstrated the academic ability to be accepted to multiple colleges across multiple states. She was able to choose where she wanted to go and she is literally controlling her own destiny. There is also pride in knowing that the financial preparations that you made, before she could walk, are bearing fruit. It feels good and you are humbled by the awesome power of God. None of this would have happened without him, and I'm thankful every day that he's blessed us to see this moment.
But there is sadness as well when the reality hits you that she is no longer residing in the confines of your home. It hits you head on and you begin to look into the mirror of your life. While I still feel like the fourteen year old boy I used to be, especially when I'm playing NBA 2K13, I know that the years of my life are adding up. Gray hair is in full effect. I watch sports and the children of players I used to root for are now in the Pros. I'm old enough to have seen Willie Mays play! And now, my own child is living the American dream of college life.
A lot of my friends and co-workers keep asking me "how are you doing?" They want to know if I'm ok and I appreciate their concern. Contrary to the negative media drumbeat about black fathers there are a lot of us out here who are actively involved in raising our children. Nothing to brag about. Its just the truth. Fathers and daughters will always have a special relationship but it wasn't that hard to keep my emotions in check when we finally said goodbye that afternoon. Why? Because earlier that morning before the sun rose I was sitting on my couch in the family room shedding my tears of joy/sadness. So overall, I think I'm doing alright.
We check in a few times per day via text messages and phone calls. She's adapting quite well to the ups and downs of being on your own. As a parent, you want to do everything for your child. But when your child becomes an adult you realize that there are things that they have to do for themselves. Its necessary so that they can learn the lesson of how to make a good decision. In my heart, I know that she'll be just fine. She's prepared for living on her own and we've done a good job laying the critical foundation for her to excel.
The past week has taught me a lot about my daughter, my family, and myself. Its a new era for all of us and through love and determination we will make this transition as smooth as possible.