The day is coming soon, the day my only daughter will walk down that aisle into the arms of a young man who will promise to love her, care for her, “for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part”…and I am bewildered by the wild swings my emotions are taking in these days leading up to this event. It’s not the planning. She is actually firmly in charge of all that and has clear ideas and strong organizational skills. It’s not any kind of mother-daughter conflict. It’s not even that we (my husband and I) don’t trust this young man and believe he will do all in his power to make her happy.
What I am experiencing is a kind of shame-faced wish to stop time. As parents we pour our love and care and support into our children, hoping and praying for a life full of joy. And then when the time comes, and it is time for them to fly away into that dreamed-of life…we have to say goodbye.
I know that these feelings are not necessarily rational…it’s probably not the last time we will eat dinner together, just the three of us, or the last time we will go on a trip together…yet these days have a tremendously bittersweet edge. The focus of her life has changed, and we’re not so central to it anymore. The irony of all this is that I, myself, am a Professional Counselor, helping others to deal with life transitions. It’s hard no matter where you come from.
I will face that day with all the grace I can muster. I will cry (I already cry at commercials, so I don’t have a prayer that day.) And I will welcome her husband into our lives as a son. I will accept the changes in our relationship that are inevitable. I will learn to love him. But I will always miss my little girl.
Tips for Dealing with “Good” Transitions:
- Don’t be too hard on yourself…even if it’s a wonderful event, it’s still a change.
- Allow yourself to feel what you feel. It doesn’t help to tell yourself you “should” feel a certain way if you don’t.
- Find support. Talk to your spouse, a best friend, a counselor (!). Sometimes writing about it helps.
- Plan something special for yourself after the event. The week after might be a big let-down…so have something on the books – a massage, a day trip, a visit to a museum – something just for you.
Above all, be gentle with yourself. You deserve as much care as anyone else does.