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Her Tattered Bear

How to handle your child leaving home

Today we are taking our youngest daughter to college. There are so many emotions and life changes happening all at once. I have been resisting the urge to retreat into denial. I want to be present to feel all these things despite the overwhelmingness. Painful and joyful, bittersweet.

A dear friend gave me a copy of The Velveteen Rabbit awhile back. I’m not sure if she was foreseeing this place that I would find myself in or if she just thought of me when she saw it in that old book store. It’s obvious that this copy was loved on as much as the boy in the story loved that rabbit.

My daughter has her own velveteen rabbit in the form of a brown teddy bear. A few days ago, when we were cleaning her room and packing her belongings, we found that old teddy bear up on a shelf. The bear with no fur on his butt or arms, nor does he have eyes. His nose was long gone years ago. When she was young she had to have that bear to go to sleep. She would suck on two fingers and rub that bear’s backside until she fell asleep. That bear went everywhere with us for years and there was no negotiating on that one. If the bear got left behind we would be going back for it.

When I took that bear off the shelf to have a moment of reminiscing, I couldn’t believe how it still smelled like her. After soaking up the memories, I put that bear back on the shelf because he is definitely not going to college!

The reality is that this is really happening and it was time to embrace that it was here. I knew that I needed to get very present or I would be missing those little moments that are very profound as a young woman makes the transition to being independent. And I would miss out on the opportunity to grow gracefully into the role of no longer needing to mother her but rather to become her friend first and mom second.

It will not come as a surprise to me that the ride home will be a teary one when we turn the car around to go home. But those tears will be bittersweet. Some sadness but a whole lot of pride in a brave and adventurous daughter!