The dance of departure occurs many times in life.
It happens in business, when colleagues leave and move on to other companies, or, unfortunately, when layoffs occur.
It happens in families and with friends.
Someone starts college, or takes a new job, or gets married and moves far away. And, of course, families and groups of friends change in other big ways, too.
So the dance of departure happens again and again, in different ways.
That dance is underway in our world now.
Our son's final college applications went in last night.
After they'd been sent, I felt a great big mixture of relief, pride, and yet, was reminded of my wish not to be at this point in life so soon.
Yet here we are. It is…believe it or not, whether we as parents like it or not…time.
And so, the dance of departure continues.
We want our children to be ready to run on their own when the time is right.
Day by day, over the full range of their growing up years, we let them gradually go.
We teach them to.
We help them develop skills, learn to make good decisions, celebrate successes and also face consequences when choices don't work out well.
All this time, they thought all that we cared about was good grades?
Little do they know how carefully we've watched and tried to make good decisions, ourselves.
We hope to have done a good job of guiding both the strategic and tactical aspects of their growth, their readiness to join the adult world.
As parents, we want to make sure that they get the right foundation: a solid base of knowledge that will serve them well, strong life skills, and the ability to apply them well. And, of course, we hope to have taught them resiliency, as well.
We hope they surround themselves with people who are friends in the truest sense of the word, and support their growth, too.
We hope to help them learn to hit that difficult-to-achieve balance between being themselves and yet knowing how to be a strong member of the groups they're in.
We teach them to plan, to try their plan, and to adapt as need be to reach challenging goals. And we try to teach them to know that's it's okay to for help as they learn and grow.
We try to teach them how to leave well – even though we don't want to see them go.
We get them (and ourselves) ready to say "good-bye."
And ready to say "hello" in a different way as the adults they become, proudly testing themselves in a soon-larger world.
This dance of departure is not an easy dance, whatever departure is involved.
But it's an important one to do well.