Recently, a friend and I were talking about the college searches our high school juniors have undertaken. My friend said something that made me pause: “I’m not encouraging my daughter to apply to colleges out-of-state, because I know I’ll miss her.” I didn’t respond at the time, because I didn’t have words to express how vehemently I disagreed with this statement. After processing my emotions, I’m choosing instead to write a letter to my daughter.

Dear Love Bug—

I could not be more proud of the woman you have become. When you were born, your father insisted that we approach parenting with a specific focus—we were raising an adult, not a child, and we needed to treat you accordingly. I’m proud to say we’ve stuck with it.

We’ve insisted that you learn how to navigate public transportation in small and large cities across the United States and in other countries. We’ve exposed you to other cultures and languages, and taught you that saying please and thank you are universally appreciated. We’ve volunteered with you at home and abroad so that you instinctively look for opportunities to help others and recognize that volunteer experiences exist everywhere.

You’ve exceeded our expectations for empathy and intelligence. You make connections that blow my mind and often follow really deep thoughts with a pun (sometimes witty, sometimes cringe worthy). And what impresses me most is that you are inherently kind.

For these reason, I encourage you to apply to colleges in our home state, other states and other countries. I want you to continue to travel the world and make a difference in the lives of others, and most importantly I want to miss you.

To me, missing you means that you are too busy experiencing a transformative college experience to be home. It means that rather than spending time with me, you are trying something new, sometimes making mistakes, and learning when and how you are your strongest. Most importantly, missing you means you have taken a risk to do something beyond what your father and I can provide. My wish is that you follow your dreams and never allow anyone to limit where you go or how you think of yourself, especially those who love you most.

Let me miss you and know I will always be here to welcome you home.

Love, Momma Bird