When I went off to college they had a couple of days of orientation for the incoming Freshmen where the parents stayed for a day and got the rundown along side of us. I had 2 roommates. One roommate and I couldn't wait for our parents to leave. We pushed them to their car and waved "See ya!". But our other roommate was distraught. I mean she literally cried for 3 weeks because she was so homesick. I had no idea how to comfort her because it was seriously such a strange concept that she wanted to go home. We were free and on our own, I mean what wasn't there to like? She ended up returning home after the first semester.
As a Mom I decided that my kids would never be like that... not that they would never miss me, but that they would never be held back on their dreams because being in a new environment was too scary. So I did what my parents did to me... I shipped them off to summer camp. My daughter was first in the summer before 6th grade. She chose a tennis camp out near Santa Barbara, about a 3 hour drive for us. So we got there and found her room and I took out the sheets to make up her bed and she told me to stop, that she could do it herself and then she physically PUSHED me out of the room and said "See ya!".
And much to my husband's total confusion, I cried the whole way home. When he looked at me and said that she was going to be fine I replied "Of course she's going to be fine. I'm crying because she didn't need me." Now here's the thing - that was totality what I was going for in the first place! I wanted to have kids who could go someplace new, know no one and be confident enough to handle it on their own. And I got exactly that.
My son goes off to his first camp this week - he's going into 6th grade just like his sister was on her first time. He chose a Rugby camp in San Diego where he, of course, knows no one. So I'm going to drop him off in the morning at the Olympic Training Center and leave my baby there for a week and you know what? I fully anticipate a "See ya!" about 5 minutes into the day. After the unceremonious dismissal from one child, I'm taking my daughter to Ikea to shop for furniture for her first college apartment. She moves in in a couple of weeks. Yep. Another "See ya" moment on the near horizon.
What I have learned from these moments isn't that I raised kids who can't wait to leave me (although it feels a little like that sometimes). I'm going to give myself one heck of a pat on the back and say that I raised kids who have a solid enough foundation that change doesn't cripple them. They can stand on their own because they are loved and they are confident because they know they have back up when they need it.
I will have to hear "See ya!" many more times as a mother and I'm not going to promise that I won't cry afterwards. All I can hope for is that the "See ya!" is followed by a hug and a whisper in my ear saying "I'll miss you".