Saying Goodbye to My Dream Job and My Daughter’s Childhood at the Same Time

It’s been a heck of a month, friends.

On August 2, my husband and I embarked on a vacation to California to celebrate 20 years of marriage. Yay! (I’ll share our whole love story soon. It’s really something.)

However, that morning, as we were awaiting our second flight in the Seattle airport, I got hit with a bombshell. Upworthy, the company I’d been blissfully working for for the past six months, was laying off almost its entire editorial team. 31 people.

Not only was I losing my job, but essentially everyone I worked with was too. Editors, copyeditors, data trackers, writers — the whole kit and kaboodle — gone. Poof. Just like that. It’s like a tornado whipped through without warning and took out an entire department. Quite the way to kick off an anniversary weekend.

No one enjoys getting laid off, of course. But I wasn’t just sad and disappointed over it — it broke my heart.

I loved my job. Loved it. And I loved the people I worked with. I got to wake up every morning bright and early and look for important stories to tell. I got to write about things that matter, people that inspire, initiatives that brought real change. I pitched stories to editors who cared about using our words making the world a better place. I worked with diverse writers with complementary passions for justice and equity. We weren’t just writing stories looking for traffic; we were on a mission to change the public discourse, to elevate conversations above the banality of Kim Kardashian’s butt cheeks, and to inspire people to action on important social issues.

If I could have crafted a job for myself from scratch, it would have come pretty darn close to what I was doing at Upworthy. So to have it all come to a crashing halt with very little explanation, to have everyone I had grown to love and admire there suddenly find themselves tossed from the same boat, was heartbreaking. It is still heartbreaking. It’s been three weeks and I still tear up when I think about it too much.

I’m still writing, of course. I’ve begun writing for the website Grown and Flown, I’ll be doing more freelance work as well, and I’ll be writing more here. But I still have a bit more grieving to do. These things take time.

Speaking of time, my oldest turned 18 on Monday, the same day she started college. And I don’t know if I’m okay. There are so many emotions I find myself wading through as I face the fact that I’ve parented a child all the way to adulthood — love, pride, fear, hope, excitement, worry, inadequacy, accomplishment — and they keep bouncing around like spilled ping pong balls in my heart. I’m all over the place, feeling every feeling at the same time to varying degrees.

As a parent, you know this day is coming. It’s the whole purpose of mothering, to grow your little human into a flourishing, grown-up version of themselves. But it’s still a gut punch. Our daughter isn’t even going away to school — she’s living at home since we live only 15 minutes from campus. And yet, the shift in our family reality is palpable.

Other than celebrating the ability to vote, I’d never thought much about 18. But it’s striking me that our daughter is now 100% responsible for herself, legally speaking. If she commits a crime, she’s on her own. If she decided to walk out the door and never come back, we couldn’t stop her. If we decided to kick her out and never let her come back, she couldn’t stop us. Not that any of those scenarios is even remotely likely at all, but it’s a weird moment of realization when that official, legal cord gets cut.

I have an adult child. I have a adult child. How did this happen?

I know. I know the answer. I know that we’re entering a new and awesome stage with her, and that this is the reward for all of the hard work we’ve put in. I feel that, too. But I need a moment, please. Just to sit here with all of this. To feel it. To let it sink in and let these feelings settle a bit.

There have been so many times I’d swear it was never going to happen, but kids really do grow up after all. It’s here. And it’s as wonderful and terrible as I imagined it would be.

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Annie writes about life, motherhood, world issues, beautiful places, and anything else that tickles her brain. On good days, she enjoys juggling life with her husband and homeschooling her children. On bad days, she binges on chocolate chips and dreams of traveling the world alone.

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