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."