My firstborn is leaving for college in less than 2 weeks. I knew that this moment was coming and perhaps it was a little denial and perhaps it was genuine thoughts of ‘it is a long way off;’ but, either way, now that moment is practically here and I’m having a mini panic attack. I realize all parents have this moment in their lives, but how I’m reacting to it, is a bit odd…especially for me. I’m not one to show much, if any, sentimentality or emotion – particularly tears – but I’m finding that even the littlest things are creating small leaks in my eyes. A song on the radio (thank you Tim McGraw ‘Humble and Kind”), a photograph, her shoes left in a pile by the door, a gathering with friends who have poured their hearts into our child for 18 years. So, please forgive me if you hear me sniffling in the corner or catch me wiping my eyes at a seemingly random moment…
I remember these same feelings, while definitely not as strong, when this same child went to kindergarten. She was ready, eager to learn, meet new people, and seek adventure beyond the comfort of our home – at 4 years old. She stood on our front porch, with her cute striped pink dress and bright white shoes, backpack and lunch box in hand, with an adorable proud, eager, and confident smile on her face. When we arrived at school I kissed her and she looked up at me with those huge blue eyes, smiled, and said, “Bye, mom. See ya later.” She smiled and waved at me one last time and then turned to start playing with some other children. She was ready…READY.
Now at 17 (almost 18) she’s doing the exact same thing…except she won’t come home to us each afternoon anymore. She’ll be 2+ hours away, in a new city, a new environment, a new ‘home.’ We’ll hear about the exciting things in her life long after they happen. We won’t be able to give her a hug when she’s had a bad day or sit on the couch and hold her as she cries over a broken heart or a failed assignment. We can’t remind her to set her alarm or to eat vegetables. We can’t help her pick the strong trees to hang her hammock on. We can’t pretend to understand politics or calculus or genetics while she does her homework.
It’s very much like kindergarten, but it’s not.
My mama brain has a million thoughts every day lately like this (with very good answers, but whatever):
What if she doesn’t like her professor/teacher? (suck it up)
What if she gets hurt or sick? (go to Health Services)
What if she can’t figure out the washing machine? (ask the cute guy next to you for help)
What if she doesn’t like the food for lunch? (eat it anyway or starve)
Will someone call me if she’s having a bad day? (yep, she will)
What if she fails a test? (Study harder)
What if there’s a creepy guy living next door? (Trust those little hairs on the back of your neck)
What if she doesn’t get along with her roommate? (there are lots of other people to hang out with)
What if she uses all the data on her phone? (Figure out the wi-fi spots or buy more from mom and dad)
What if she gets lost while riding the bus? (ask for directions)
What if she can’t find a group of people that are her people? (keep looking)
What if all her dreams come true and she doesn’t want to come home? (That’s actually the whole point, and we can go to her)
What if ? (What if!)
What IF? (What IF!)
WHAT IF??? (WHAT IF!!)
The rational side of my brain knows that we’ve taught her to handle all of these situations and more, but my (sometimes) irrational mama brain is having a difficult time shutting off…just like when I dropped her at Kindergarten for the first time. The best part about kindergarten (well, K-12)? She found her people, she found her passions, she found her heart and soul, and, best of all, she found herself. We know she will be true to all of those things and develop new and interesting passions. We know she will be nothing short of successful and have a college experience unlike anything we can even imagine. We are so very, very proud.
While the tears are likely (at least for me), and a little depression is probably going to happen, this is a temporary but necessary step in her life and I cannot wait to hear about every single failure, every single lesson learned, every single relationship that makes her heart swell or the ones that break it, every single adventure.
So, go, sweet child of mine, and conquer the world. Break the glass ceiling – don’t just tap on it and crack the surface – SHATTER IT. Create adventure. Be brave and strong and kind. Experience true wanderlust. Remember where you came from. And, most importantly, BE where you are.