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My View: It's hard when it's time for your youngest to leave

By Gayle Kerman

I’m wondering, does a mother robin struggle when her last little fledgling flies from the nest? I’m wondering because, as a human mom, I’m struggling.

After raising four children over the last 33 years, our youngest “bird" will be graduating from college very shortly. A week later, she will be starting a job in Los Angeles with a company called Recycled Karma. Karma, hmmm, it’s her destiny, her fate, to move 2,500 miles (a little less as the crow flies) from her childhood home. She worked hard to make this happen. She’s living her dream and I’m genuinely happy for her.

But ... since hearing of her job offer, I’ve had trouble sleeping. This is happening way too fast, although I’ve had 21 years to prepare for it. I wake up during the night remembering one more seemingly urgent thing to tell her. Basically these “important” things are only little reminders, many of which I’m sure she already knows and would bring on a full-blown eye roll upon hearing. It’s just, well, a mom thing. She’s spent four years away at college and managed to survive quite well.  But still, I’m compelled to tell her. Here's just a few and the list grows nightly:

Make sure your gas tank doesn’t go below half. Remember to rotate your tires. Be aware of your surroundings. Stay informed about  earthquakes, wildfires and mudslides in Los Angeles. Always know where the exits are. Never leave a drink unattended. Know how to don your oxygen mask. Always carry your EpiPen. Don’t forget to check out the latest Rossen reports on Uber safety or securing your identity or whatever else he’s reported on. Be thoughtful and kind. (You already are.) Don’t forget to call me once in a while.

All of these things make me wonder how will she survive without me? But in truth, my subconscious is asking how will I survive without her? You’d think this would be easy since I’ve faced this situation three times already. Our oldest daughter left for Boston University at age 18 and never looked back. She met her husband, a UConn grad, while studying abroad in Australia. After living in Boston they relocated to Los Angeles. Our son attended American University in Washington, D.C., 12 years ago and currently lives with his wife and works there. And while our second daughter, a Geneseo alum, lives locally, she too has flown the nest to build one of her own.

Gayle Kerman.

I know I had the same feelings when the others left, but not to the same degree. I know it’s not because I loved them any less. I think much of it had to do with the fact that there were still nestlings at home who needed me. I also think her upcoming move represents a finality – a reality – that my role as a mother raising her young to adulthood is done and I’ll have to settle into a new and different mom role.

When we tell friends of our daughter’s good fortune they remark at how lucky we are that two of our girls will be living in the same city even though it’s so far away. We can visit them in the same trip. In a sense, they are saying we can kill two birds with one stone. (Not a good metaphor for this piece but it brings some levity.) We are equally lucky that all four are grown and gainfully employed. I feel blessed, and proud of a job well done. I know I’ll get over it soon enough. But, why is it so hard letting the last one go?

Gayle Kerman of Getzville is having trouble letting the last bird fly away.

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