College move-in day “good-byes” are never easy. Why? Because, move-in day good-byes are loaded with all sorts of emotions. Those emotions can contribute to a variety of reactions and responses.
For some, reactions—emotions that “act up” again—can range from sadness to snot-crying. For others, responses can range from silence to a simply saying, “Bye.”
Elton John crooned, “Sorry seems to be the hardest word.” However, I think that “good-bye” can be the hardest word—well, the hardest two words—to say, especially for a mom on her daughter’s college move-in day.
The words “good-bye” signify that the
- Familiar contact with your daughter is ending and
- the connection with your daughter is changing.
I’ve been pondering endings and changes as my daughters get ready to leave for college in the coming weeks. As the thoughts of their leaving enter my mind, I experience a myriad of emotions as a result. The snot-cry hasn’t occurred (yet) and I’m wondering if it will occur.
If it doesn’t occur, then would that be a bad thing? If it the snot-cry does occur, then would that be a good thing?
Poet Geoffrey Chaucer’s “All good things must come to an end” comment undermined that possibility that a good “good-bye” can ever occur.
However, I still think that just like beginnings and transitions, endings and changes are part of life and can be a good thing. But how?
Preparation can be helpful.
Here are three ways you can prepare to make college move-in day good-byes good.
#1: To Say Good-Bye, Get Real
By “getting real” I mean to get real about your real feelings. Specifically, get real about your feelings regarding endings.
To get real about those feelings, think about the first time you ever got upset about something ending. Was it when you were told you had to stop playing your favorite game? Did you have to leave a particular party earlier than you’d originally thought? Whatever the situation, consider how you were told to handle your feelings in that moment. Were you told to “stop crying,” “suck it up,” or were you ignored?
Whatever you were told in that moment, I want you to know that your feelings matter.
So now, as an adult, remind yourself that your feelings do matter.
#2: Use Your Imagination To Say “Good-Bye”
Once you’ve acknowledged your real feelings, now imagine yourself in whatever-future-good-bye-moment is coming. (I know this may be hard for you to do, but just hang in there with me.)
As you imagine yourself in that good-bye moment, allow yourself to just notice what you are feeling in your body.
(I know you may want to just brush aside the feelings at this point. But don’t.)
Just sit with those feelings.
Resume reading this blog.
Okay, you felt it—your feelings.
And guess, what? You’re still here. You’re still moving. And I’m glad.
Your electronic device is still here. The earth is still here.
You now have evidence of two important points about feelings:
- Feelings just are what they are—feelings.
- Feelings pass.
Through just imagining the good-bye moment, you can prepare yourself and your body for the feelings that may arise (again). The only difference is that, this time in that moment, they won’t take you by surprise.
#3: Savor The Moments
Before (& After) The Move-In
Since you’ve experienced and know that feelings are just feelings and will pass, now savor the moments. Moments are what make memories.
Moments don’t have to be a big production. They can be the small instances of a smiling glance, a hug with an extra squeeze, or a spontaneous stop amidst errands to get a latte together.
As you savor the moments, you will weave a new thread of fabric in your mother-daughter relationship. That fabric will be the blanket which covers your heart and hers as she starts this new chapter in her life.
©Dr. Michelle Deering & Curative Connections LLC