Hey, sweetie . . . it’s mom.

I’ve been feeling a little unsettled lately. Not just “life is crazy and there’s always something new to figure out” unsettledness, but something deeper.

I think it’s that I’ve run smack into one of the hardest and best things about you growing up.

When you were little, I wanted you to be happy, and the things that made you unhappy were, by and large, things I could do something about. They were problems I could fix, and in fixing them, I had the power to make you happy.

Now, you are no longer little, and here is what is hard about that: the things that make you happy are mostly things I can’t control anymore.

They are things outside of me and beyond me. They are classes and people and friendships and love interests and jobs and achievements and hopes and dreams that I don’t (and rightfully so!) have anything to do with.

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If certain situations arise in your life, I cannot (and—again—should not!) handle them for you. I cannot solve a roommate problem, if one arises. I cannot carry a heavy course load. I cannot get you a job. I cannot make a person you love keep loving you back. I cannot fix a broken friendship.

And of course, it is not my place in any of this to solve, carry, get, make, or fix.

But these things and situations and people hold power over your happiness, yet they do not know you or love you the way I do. They did not nurse you, console you, or teach you. They are a large part of your life now, as they should be. With them and through them, you are building your own independent future, as you should.

But I don’t know if I can trust them to care about your happiness.

And here is another hard thing: I want you to be happy more now than I did when you were younger, because I love you more now than I did then, because I know you more now than I did then, and to know you is to love you.

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Still, I hold onto this hope . . . not fingers-crossed, please-let-it-be-so wishful thinking, but confident expectation in what I believe to be true: that the happiness deposits I poured into you while I had the chance are there now for you to draw from when other sources let you down.

When you fail the exam. When you don’t get the job. When your heart is broken because you dared to love, and lost.

Too, whether in celebration or consolation, I can still sometimes feed you and help heal your hurts and hold you. I can listen. I can pray. (And believe me, I do.) I can remind you that in all that is changing, some things will stay the same. I can show you that in all that is uncertain, some things are steady and sure.

And there is also this: I understand that when you find happiness now, it is your own doing.

You are working, studying, exploring, and becoming—while I watch, worry, cheer, and pray from the sidelines, where I belong. This version of happiness is something you have sought and found for yourself.

Which is a new kind of happiness all its own, for both of us.

Originally published on Guilty Chocoholic Mama

Elizabeth Spencer

Elizabeth Spencer is mom to two daughters (one teen and one young adult) who regularly dispense love, affection, and brutally honest fashion advice. She writes about faith, food, and family (with some occasional funny thrown in) at Guilty Chocoholic Mama and avoids working on her 100-year-old farmhouse by spending time on Facebook and Twitter.