Wednesday, August 19, 2015

To everything, a season

   The day I've been dreading for the past 18 years is finally here. On Thursday, we will load my daughter's belongings into her car and take her to college. It's a day she's been anticipating and one I've put in the back of my mind, hoping it would not arrive as fast as it has.
   I've watched her prepare for college all summer long. From orientation to picking out bedding and decorations for her dorm room. She is greeting the next chapter of her life with excitement and I have no doubt she will experience some of the best times of her life in college. Although I'm having a hard time letting go, I know letting go is part of being a parent. I just wish it didn't hurt so much.  It's one of the many seasons of change throughout a child's life. For us, it's a big change as we adjust to becoming "empty nesters."
   Through tears, I began thinking of all the things I will miss about having her at home. I'll miss the sound of her laugh when she is watching one of her favorite television shows. I'll miss the smell of her perfume and hair products wafting through the hallway in the mornings. I'll miss peeking in her room in the middle of the night to check on her. I'll miss her sitting at the kitchen table talking to me while I'm cooking supper. I'll miss the sound of the back door opening and her saying, "I'm home." I'll miss going into her room searching for my favorite earrings she's borrowed. I'll miss her coming into my room at night and sitting next to me while we talk about her day, boys, school, friendships and her plans for the future.
   I'll miss those goodnight hugs she's never outgrown, kissing her on the forehead and the sound of "I love you mom" before she goes to bed. Most of all, I'll miss her daily presence.
Although the things I will miss about her are many, there's so much more I'm looking forward to.  I look forward to hearing about her classes, professors and new friends. I look forward to random text messages during the week to let me know she's doing okay. I look forward to the phone calls, hearing about the food in the cafeteria, the late night study sessions and the excitement of being on her own. I look forward to the first time she comes home for a visit and the pile of laundry she will bring with her. I look forward to watching this chapter of her life unfold.
   Many times over the summer, I've thought about all the things I want her to know before she leaves. You know, the typical mom things like, "Don't talk to strangers. Make sure you don't walk across campus at night. Don't answer the door if it's late! Use your GPS so you don't get lost driving."  When I tell her these things, she just nods and says, "Yes, Mom...I know…you've already told me." She usually says it as she pats me on the hand to let me know everything is going to be okay. It never hurts to say something again, right? Out of all the things going through my mind I want to make sure she knows, the two most important ones are: I'm very proud of her and I love her more than she will ever know.
   In my heart, I see a little round faced girl with her hair in pigtails excitedly nervous about the first day of Kindergarten. In my mind, I see a beautiful young woman who is excited about her first year of college. As I walk away from her dorm tomorrow and begin the trip home, I will do so with the scripture Ecclesiastes 3:1 in my mind, "To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven."

Monday, August 3, 2015

A day at the beach

   As I stood barefoot in the sand, the warm and salty water of the Gulf of Mexico washed over my feet. Just as quickly as the waves rushed in, they flowed back into the Gulf only to do it all over again.
   The sun was beaming down on me, but a cool breeze blowing off the water made for a perfect evening. There were a few boats off in the distance and as far as the eye could see was water. I laughed to myself about how the end of the water in the distance looked as if you would fall off the edge if you got too close. Good thing Christopher Columbus ventured further than the eye could see!
   There’s nothing quite like standing in front of the ocean to make you feel minuscule; even a small wave has the strength to knock you to your feet. It’s in that very moment, you feel such a deep connection to the one who created it all.
   I sat down and watched as my husband and daughter floated in the water on their brightly colored tubes. I captured that moment in my mind as I realized there won’t always be moments like these. Even though she is about to head off to college in a couple of weeks, he stayed close to her just like he did when she was little.
   Two little girls were collecting seashells just a few feet from me, giggling with excitement as they found a new one. When their hands were full, they ran to their dad who was waiting with a bucket. He beamed each time they rushed to him with their new finds. I imagined he was capturing this moment in time as well.
   I noticed my husband and daughter had drifted further down, so I turned my attention to the sand. Growing up in rural America, there were not many opportunities to build sand castles, so I channeled my inner child and began digging in the sand. I wrote my name and watched the water wash it away and built a small one tower castle that washed away within minutes after building it.

   During my time on the beach, I felt such a spiritual connection to the world. I don’t always have difficulty expressing myself, but I’ve found it hard to put into words how I felt that day. For the first time in a long time, I noticed every single sound, every smell and every movement around me. At that moment, everything was right in the world.