Hovering over an empty nest

The last few years have seemed like one long season as my daughters leave the nest. Last spring I was escorting my first-born daughter, Alexandra, through the twists and turns of wedding preparation until her daddy walked her down the aisle and she became someone else’s chick. Soon the newlyweds will fly north to Rochester, Minn., to start the next chapter of their careers and build their own (hopefully non-permanent) nest.

The process of childbirth, rearing and letting go should be easier the second time around, but somehow—while vastly different—it is just as difficult. My youngest, Daniela, will graduate from high school and fly the coop in a few months to begin her new life full of personal and academic challenges.

Although I was never one of those “helicopter parents,” I find myself in the 11th hour second-guessing my parenting with a touch of regret—thinking maybe I should have been more of a “hoverer.” If I had stayed on top of her more, gotten more involved in school, sent baked goods, been more active in the mothers’ club (whoops—I wasn’t even in the mothers’ club for Daniela), showed up for more soccer games, would she be better prepared to be on her own? Would she fly on past the blame-game stage and go straight to the “Mom, you were right and you always know best” phase?

Daniela mused recently, “Senior year has been so great. I am not ready to leave. I wish I had another year at St. Joseph’s.” As I secretly wiped away a tear, I wondered for an instant: Would they let an accomplished student repeat senior year strictly for love of her alma mater?

This Mother’s Day, probably for the last time in a while, my family will all be together. I hope you will cherish the endings and new beginnings that take place this month as much as I will.