Parents always say that they have a terrible time trying to let go. I never really understood that -- as it was and always has been my goal to escape from the house as much as possible, out of reach and out of sight of my parents. It's one of the reasons I went to school far away. I would imagine that when I have kids of my own, I might get it. I might finally understand why it's so hard.
I don't hug my parents anymore when I'm leaving unless they make me. I can't remember the last time I've said 'I love you' back to them when they say it... In some ways I feel like they don't mean it. Other times it sounds sincere. I've yet to discover the truth regarding that, though almost anyone will assure me it is with the ultimate sincerity. Love is a powerful word -- I'm not going to say it unless I mean it.
However I feel like to some extent I've begun to understand a bit about why it is so hard. It's the same thing with a relationship -- just on a different scale. You've invested so much time and energy, both mentally and emotionally, and then you have to let it drift away. It can ease in or it can be sudden. Or maybe it can be a constant struggle.
From an early age I was keen on leaving home for extended periods of time. When I was in elementary school I went for a week-long camp for cub scouts at a scout reservation. No homesickness. Later in middle school I went on a week-long boy scout trip to Forestburg in NY. No homesickness. When I was a sophomore in high school I went for three weeks to Europe with a student ambassador program. No homesickness. The next summer I went on a 9-day pilgrimage to Canada with a group of disabled people and my youth group. No homesickness. And even now in college, I rarely ever go home -- I just don't usually want to, and if I do, I'm usually sick of it after a week or two.
It's interesting that I seem to try to sever the ties as much as possible while my parents rapidly try to hold them intact. Perhaps the thing that is the hardest is that they have seen me grow up from birth, and seen how I've changed and can compare it to the first day -- how crazy it must be to have your child turn two decades old; the child that you held in your arms, the child that you watched grow up and succeed and fail, the child that is yours and only yours, carries your blood and your traits.
I remember my mother being close to tears several times at airports and when dropping me off at school. I never quite shared the same sentiment. And it never seems to get easier for them. My dad doesn't show much emotion, but I think he understands me a bit more... maybe.
The one thing that I think I might understand a little bit is letting people become more independent. I was really worried about my brother driving for a long time... maybe it's because he's really the only family member I get along with, and that's why I was concerned. I just remembered a lot of things that I encountered when I first started driving and I was worried he would run into issues... but the fact of the matter is, we have to let people grow up, and we have to let them gain more and more independence. Even the first moment you have a kid, you know in the back of your mind that one day they will be leaving the house for good. It's just a matter of coming to terms with that.