Parenting · Parenting Teens

Leaving a Daughter Behind

IMG_7712I remember the moment like it was yesterday when I informed the girls that one of them had to go to school on the East Coast.  We were driving to the grocery store and I was feeling happy and positive; I had just gotten back from a trip to Philadelphia.  My mind was somewhere off in the red, yellow, and burnt orange trees and I had this romantic vision of what going to school on the East Coast would look like.

I never thought one of my girls would actually take me up on my challenge.

In January, much to my surprise, my senior daughter informed me that three schools on the East Coast were in the running, and in fact, the three schools were all in New York City.  I think my heart dropped to the floor.  I never thought anyone would take my off-the-cuff remark as gospel but I should know by now that words have consequences.  And, besides, I meant Pennsylvania, not New York!

I had never been to New York City before and my last knowledge of NYC was that it was a dangerous place for anyone, let alone a girl from the burbs of San Diego with the street cred of a turtle.  This is not an insult to my daughter.  If anything, it’s a condemnation of the way in which I parented by insulating my girls from all things that could hurt them.

When we traveled to New York to visit the schools in February, I realized that my information was outdated and incorrect.  NYC was amazing: so full of life, so full of things to do, and so full of really nice people who were willing to help us navigate the bustling city.  I think we were all surprised at how wrong I was.  I heard from one of our Lyft drivers that the city used to be the way I thought but then Guiliani became mayor and the driver said that he turned it around.  Kudos to him and to the people who have made New York such an incredible city.

At the end of April, my daughter selected one of the New York schools.  I was happy that she had made a decision but couldn’t believe she was going to be 3,000 miles away from me.  After that, I must be honest, I had hoped she would change her mind and stay in California.  I waited all summer for her to say, “Whoops.  Jk.  Going to Laguna instead,” but it never happened, and this past weekend, I moved my daughter into a dorm in New York, and then I boarded a plane and headed back to California without her.  It was definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.


I opened my mouth

And tears poured out

Landing on the pavement

Nothing to stop them,

Unable to dry,

Falling one after another,

Creating a pool

of unrelenting pain.


New York, I’ve left my heart behind.  Take good care of her.



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