If you’ve ever watched a NASA launch or seen the movie Apollo 13, you’ll probably agree that the last ten seconds prior to lift-off are moments of heightened anxiety.  Waiting to hear the words “blast off,” everyone within earshot of the countdown cannot help but feel tense.

A similar tension has been mounting in my home during the last ten months since my eldest child’s 18th birthday until her move-in day at Oglethorpe University. The final ten days of transition—spent shopping for sheets and towels, transferring data to a new laptop, packing clothes to take to school and clothes to donate to charity—have been bittersweet. At times I’ve been filled with the maternal instinct to fold her into my arms and hold her so tightly that she could never go.


One recent afternoon when my patience was particularly thin, I texted my spouse that I couldn’t wait for her to leave.  “Don’t say that,” he replied. “You don’t mean it.”  I silently admitted that he was right. I did not, however, admit that I’d actually said those words aloud to my daughter.

Today, in the final ten minutes before leaving the house, I remember with regret how I said these words in anger, typed them forcefully with my thumbs. But I also know that this was, and remains, partially true:

I can’t wait for her to launch.

Her exciting journey toward adulthood begins today. As I drive away from campus, I look in the rear view mirror and see the independent-minded toddler running away from me toward the sandbox in a NYC playground. I can hear the self-assured adolescent soothing her younger siblings before calling her father to report that we were in a car accident and that no one was hurt.

maital on stage webI remember every curtain call, my applauding as she stepped on stage, my swelling with maternal pride at her accomplishments. Now I realize that these moments were rehearsals—like the simulation exercises that NASA conducts with its astronauts—to prepare for the real journey.

I know that I couldn’t hold her back. I wouldn’t want to…


Safe travels, my child.




Comments (16)

(((BIG HUGS))))

And, here’s some good news: This is not like the launch of something that goes out into space, never to be seen again. This is the launch of someone who is going to challenge the world around her and make it a different, more interesting place than she found it. And as she builds all of her experiences around the core of her existence, that core will always be strongest around the parts that you gave her. You’ll get to see and hear about it, too, because you will always be her Ima.

Well done, my friend. Very, very, very well done.

That IS good news, Corey-Jan! I was thinking about how much I’ve enjoyed our long talks this summer (including one late into the night last night) and how honored I was to be invited as her plus-one at the campus dinner this evening. After that, I hope not to see her until Thanksgiving and I expect to hear all kinds of good stories that weekend. Who knows, maybe you and I will get to see her on stage at Oglethorpe this fall?!

Don’t worry my friend, your little chick will probably retun to the fold to at least do her laundry!!

Oh, I hope she makes good use of the “care package” I left on her dresser, which included detergent & step-by-step instructions for sorting, washing & drying. 😉

What an amazing “Kodesh moment.” Thanks for sharing it with us.

Barukh she’p’tarani, sheheheyanu & tov v’meitiv all rolled into one!

When our son went off to college,he packed up his stuff and drove away. It was not how I had imagined it going, but then again, very little about his childhood had been as I had imagined…
Both of our children have recently moved into post-college life, in Philly and in Boulder, into shared houses and job searches and puppies and Israeli locksmiths that are too old for you but hit on you anyway, and rototilling a garden….I wouldn’t trade places with them. But it is exciting.
They still call for resume advice, recipes, and of course, for money!

Elyse, it seems like nothing in life is as we imagine it — not for our kids, ourselves–and that’s part of the challenge & the joy! I am heartened to hear about the adventures of your grown children. It gives me hope for our future when, a long time from now, our youngest will leave the nest.

Your post hit me hard as I sit in my new apartment that I just bought and prepare for marriage. Well written!


P.S. Corey-Jan is right – you’ll always be her Ima.

Thanks, Schwoty! You are entering such a wonderful stage of your journey…David & look back on those early years not only with nostalgia for our youth but also with a growing sense of all we have accomplished together since then. This launch is just one reminder of how being married & being parents can be the most challenging & also rewarding experiences of life. Big mazel tov on the new apartment: m’shaneh makom m’shaneh mazal!

the joy of my relationship with my adult daughter (age 26) is every bit as delightful as the joy of my relationship with her as a baby. I send you blessings for the journey.

Thank you, Rabbi Anne! I am grateful for your blessing, and appreciate all the wisdom shared by my friends whose children are now grown. I am only slightly nostalgic for the delicious baby stage & learning to enjoy the development of a relationship with adult children.

Pamela thank you for sharing this, we shuttled our youngest off to his gap year in Israel two weeks ago and I have to say that the pangs of missing my two boys only serve to reinforce my more dominant feeling that like you- I am so happy they are launching! This is how it is supposed to be. And I feel privileged to have a front row seat for this exciting time. (not to say that there aren’t worries, and drama of course) What I realized recently is that while I have been far from a perfect mother (as if there were such a thing) I have definitely been a conscious one. And one of the lesson of conscious parenting is that change is the norm!

Thank you, Pearl, for your kind words! And best of luck to you & your youngest! At the risk of sounding too tongue-in-cheek, I must admit that I’ve been quelling some of the pangs by dipping my spoon into the Nutella. Double-dipping even…but mostly it’s wonderful acknowledging and accepting the changes.

Pamela, The mark of a mature person is seeing the perspective from outside ourselves and our needs. When God gave us children, He helped us see beyond our needs in helping another young person become an adult. This can be an agonizing, slow process, but the goal is still to give them wings to fly, yet roots to stay connected to their foundational support — family! We all do our best and then the rest is out of our control! God knows how to handle everything outside our domain and you have dong a wonderful work in giving your daughter an environment to develop her own personality and talents, unique to this world and valuable to all of us. Your strong spirit lives on through your children’s developing years, but your own talents and relationships impact us all for good!! Mazell Tov to a fabulous Ima!

Oh, Mary, thank you (as always) for being a Mom in my village! You helped in large measure to launch this one successfully. God Bless!

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