You Can Always Come Home: August 13 2013

Daiyaan at Four

Her crumpled wet towel doesn’t litter the room; her unwashed dishes don’t sit in the sink waiting to be taken care of; the pair of bejeweled flip-flops don’t stand lazily by the front door; for several years, these were some chronic complaints I had, about my teenager.

I whined about, why she just doesn’t like to eat breakfast at home (egg sandwiches at the diner) and rarely adventures outside of her food domain of pizza rolls, hamburgers, sushi, Thai and maybe a bit of pasta without the marinara sauce.  Salads, not really!

About two weeks ago my eighteen-year old first-born, moved out to her new condo, about 25 minutes away in Boca Raton, in anticipation of starting the next step of her life: College/University.

She moved into a spacious unit overlooking a small canal and has her private room with a hallway and bath/shower and a large walk-in closet. She shares a large kitchen, dinette and living space with her new roomie Sarah, already a sophomore in college.

She is learning to spread her wings; learning to live independently – do her own laundry, and change her own sheets. While, in our little home, with the three of us, may have been cramped with her, now feels empty, as if, someone has sucked the wind out.

Some 28 years ago, I left my family home, and migrated a few thousand miles, where I didn’t get to see my family for more than 30 months! I was also spreading my own wings and building my own universe. I missed my family, but rarely looked back. I was conquering a new world altogether.

Today, as my nest empties out, I feel sad, nostalgic, remorseful and yet happy and anxious – all at the same time. I never knew that these feelings could be so contradictory at the same moment.

My morning starts with a text, “Good Morning Daddy, Whatya doing?” and the series continues throughout the day. I learn about the new job she has secured for herself, or what classes she has signed up for, or how sad she is that her BFF friend Markie is moving away to college.

I try to call and listen to her voice at least once a day; once a week, we have dinner or breakfast together and see each other face-to-face. Sometimes, if she is in the area, she will stop by and spend the night in her old room.

When I go into the room at night to kiss the girls good night, and hear two sets of deep breathing, it gives me a certain comfort, and false sense of security – that is hard to explain. I sit on the floor and just listen to that deep breathing for a few minutes.

Tomorrow morning, she will get into her grey Honda Civic and drive off on her own, to her doctor’s appointment or some other errand. All she will leave behind is that short few hours of memory that she was here, and I held her, for as long as I could, until she was truly ready to fly.

Someone once told me,  once you leave home, you can never go back – because you are not the same, and the home is not the same either.

For those of my friends, who have young children, all I say, let those dirty dishes lie in the sink for a few more minutes; take your time, sit next to them, listen to them, smile and hug them a lot. Let them build their own space, on their own time.

Let them know that wherever they go, they can always come back home.

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9 thoughts on “You Can Always Come Home: August 13 2013

  1. U made me cry. I can relate to your situation because in 1 year I will also have my own.1st born go off to college. The good thing is that they will always know where to find us . We r their home where ever we may b living at the time. Good luck with the transition in your life..You r an awesome writer, did u ever think about writing your own book ?

  2. Great story. Do you remember that when we went to Mizzou we didn’t have a walk in closet? (actually we didn’t even have a bed). 🙂
    Nice to see the next generation taking the next step. Congrats big chief. This big step has many of your footprints. Be proud.

    1. Thanks, Mauro. In a couple of years it will be your turn. I saw the pictures of your 16 year old learning how to drive. We are fortunate, as parents, to be able to experience these moments. My father never got to see me drive or hold a job or play with my children! that’s why, every day is a gift, my friend; we must live it to it’s fullest! See you soon !

  3. Zain, that was a very nice and ,touching, blog. We are still in the stage with small children and sometimes I already miss Livia when she is only a few hours at Kindergarden.. I always think to enjoy it as long as they still wan’t to stay around Mom & Dad all the time 🙂
    Take care!

  4. Soooo true boy to think you hav reached this stage when it seems like yesterday u left Dhaka how time flies Mashallah both beautiful daughters love to them must bring them t5o Chits

  5. It is really touching –your writing shows how parents go through mixed feelings–happy that the daughter/son starts her college life but sad that she/is no longer living at home. I am remembering when my first born went to live at the University dorm, I missed her presence but was happy that she started her college life. I am sure your mother felt the same way when you came to this country to start your college.
    Congratulations to the proud parents!

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