I just got back from celebrating moms weekend at my daughters college. The crushing pain my heart felt as I left her there 7 months ago is just a distant memory now. She has grown in so many ways in such a short amount of time. She asked me to dry her hair this morning and as I ran my fingers through her hair, I saw a small glimpse of her… that little girl who had always been the biggest part of my own little world. I had a flashback to the tiny pigtails and her sweet little face with those great big eyes that were always excited and bursting with life. I smiled to myself as the realization embraced me. Not much has really changed except her height. Her eyes are still the same on a more mature face and the light is stronger than ever. My greatest joy is seeing her happy. I decided long ago that would be my intention for her. Her happiness may look different than I envisioned years ago, but when the heart sees, the heart knows. This has been a year of growth for both of us in many ways but I am grateful for this wonderful time in our lives. This is the part where I get to sit back and watch her bask in her own light. Our lives looked so different a year ago and here we are at this exciting place along this amazing journey. There is no greater joy than being a mom and I am grateful for the reminder as this wonderful moms weekend comes to a close.
I didn’t realize when I dropped my daughter off at college in August that the loft bed she was so excited about would be like Mt Everest when she ran a high fever from the flu. I didn’t realize how difficult the hilly 1/2 mile hike to her car would be in order to get herself to Urgent care and when I woke up yesterday I had no idea I would be quietly milking every second of this hotel room so I could let her get some restful sleep. When she called at ten o ‘clock last night to tell me her fever had gone up to 104 and she was too sick to climb out of bed for medicine, my husband and I didn’t think twice. We grabbed a small bag, threw some stuff together, stopped at Walgreens for Gatorade and medicine and started our 3.5 hour journey toward her school. To my amazement, her sweet RA was waiting kindly at the door at 1:30 in the morning to take me up to her room. Here we are a few hours later and I am sitting in this dark room listening to her breathe and grateful she is finally getting some sleep. We never know from day to day what each moment will bring but one thing is for sure, when you’re a mom, you are always ready and waiting to report to duty because that’s just what parents do.
Next year, if you too will be dropping your college student off for the first time, this is your heads up. Stock up on medicine and be ready to answer the call. It will come, most likely in the middle of the night and you will be ready just like we were to do whatever it takes to make sure your almost all grown up kid is okay.
As I watched her car back out of the driveway, I felt the old familiar pain of feeling goodbye. Saying the words are one thing, but experiencing the pure devastation of the reality that she is gone is on a level that is indescribable except to the heart. I had no thought of ever losing her. I was so naive to believe when they placed her in my arms that she was really mine. Her wings are beautiful and her excitement to fly far exceeds my struggle to let her go. The house feels so empty without her but I’ll have this beautiful space where she remains here inside my heart. I survived her first semester and I look forward to hearing about all the adventures and new experiences waiting for her this semester. Until we meet again, enjoy this ride. It is your journey and I pray you take in every moment. Don’t ever forget where you come from but never lose that excitement about where you are going. You are only confined by the limits of your mind. Think big sweet girl and continue to fly.
We had a semblance of normal the last few days after my daughter arrived home for her first short visit since leaving for college. It’s hard to face the future knowing that everyday is a change in a new direction. It’s scary to break free from the same old, safe, familiar routine that has softly enveloped our small family the past 18 years. Change is frightening but at the same time, it is exciting and necessary. We learn to embrace the now and cherish the stability as we stand boldly in the middle of it. When we allow ourselves to stop reaching for the future and grasping for the past, the now feels pretty good. Embrace every day, every moment with the absolute certainty that this day will never be the same again. Learn to flow with the good, the bad, the happy and sad knowing that the next moment will not feel like the last. Life is hard. Letting go is harder but we can find peace by taking each moment as it comes and taking a deep breath as each today slowly fades to yesterday. Be present and feel it all but allow the winds of change to blow on through. You’ve got this, I remind myself as I crawl into bed and let today float away.
To say I am distraught and saddened by what is going on in the world is an understatement at best. I got a phone call from my daughter last night. She is going through recruitment to join a sorority and struggling to know which one is right for her. As I read the reviews on Greekrank for each one, I felt immediately sick to my stomach. They label them top tier, middle and bottom tier. I didn’t get it at first but as I read more and more comments I clearly understood. Top tier was known as the girls who had money. Those are the sororities with the biggest, nicest houses and bottom tier usually meant the girls didn’t have a house and I assume aren’t as popular. Why do we feel the need to label everything? Why is everything a competition? Why do we insist on breaking people down into winners or losers? We line them up on a podium and decide who has the most value based on our own warped standards. As if any of us are that important. We are disillusioned. This is why we recognize hate in someone else but are unable to see it in ourselves. This is why we readily crucify people for crimes we are just as guilty of. But there’s a reason right? We justify that it’s okay for us because our thoughts are right and valid. The hypocrisy is sickening and we are blinded to it and consumed with ourselves. We think everyone should think like we do and if they don’t we slap labels on them. We call them names even though we’ve never known them. We call people bigots who disagree with our own beliefs because we don’t even know the definition of the word. We jump in to insult or demean anyone or anything that is inconsistent with what we think should be. I’ve had enough. Yeah, hatred is alive and well and we are all puppets in a dangerous game. We want to compare in a way that places people and beliefs and religions and race and even sororities in these same categories. We lift one up and demean the others according to what we think is impressive or important. Back to the sorority…
I will tell my daughter this…rip the damn label off. Ignore it, stomp on it, bury it in the ground. Don’t read other people’s opinions or give them any relevance. At the end of the day, all you can hope for is that you find yourself in a group of people who make you feel loved and supported. There’s enough people who will line up to tell you what is wrong with you, surround yourself with people who tell you what is right. Choose the people who make you feel you are good enough just the way you are. Those are the ones who should be top tier in your book. The rest is all an illusion. Don’t play the game . Freedom of speech was not intended to entitle everyone to share every single thought and opinion. Be better and kinder and more compassionate than ever before. Define your own categories according to what really matters. Remember we are not meant to be places in groups or boxes. we are all individuals, different and beautiful in our own way. We were never programmed to be the same. Just keep being you. Dont ever adjust!
Move in day is over and done. I learned a very important lesson through the process of dropping my daughter off at college. It’s really simple but something that may not register until you experience it yourself. Don’t tell people how to feel. In a world where we think we have the right to tell people how to act and what to believe, it is even more dangerous to tell them how they should feel. If someone is sad or hurting, be supportive. Even if you don’t get it or you think someone’s reaction is a big time overreaction, just give them a verbal hug. We all react to everything that happens in our own individual way and some of us are tougher than others depending on what it is we are trying to get through. Let people hurt, cry or grieve and just be there to give an encouraging word. We all have the best of intentions but sometimes we think too little before we speak. This is a reminder to encourage, lend a hand, lift someone up. We could use so much more of that in these trying times where we are all just fighting hard to get by and survive. I am having a difficult time right now. I cried in the grocery store today when I almost picked up that fourth piece of corn. I cried at the dinner table last night when I stared across at the empty chair. My daughter is gone from my nest and I am excited for her but I am sad for myself. And you know what? It’s okay to be sad. It is normal to grieve. Time will heal my wounds and I will get used to her being away but for right now I will give myself a break. Just breathe. Today I will just start with that.
Tomorrow is the day I leave my heart four hours away. Only I could understand the emptiness that closet must have felt as we loaded her clothes into the car. My whole world packed into two trunks ready to drive her off to start a new life someplace else. It’s bitter sweet I guess. There is a part of me excited for the change about to come into her life but the mom in me, the part that kept her safe and protected for 18 years is breaking apart at the seams. My life as I have known it is disappearing in front of my eyes and I can almost hear my heart tearing apart.
Love them and let them go.
It sounds easy in theory but when you watch a room that was so full of her empty out, your heart can’t help but feel that emptiness too. Tomorrow I will leave her behind. Tomorrow I quietly wink at God and remind him she is in His hands now. I will pray that I did enough and loved her enough and that she is ready to step behind the wheel. Her life is her own now. Will she make the right choices? Will she be kind and compassionate? Will she be happy? Grateful? I can only hope when I feel sad that I will remember her like I see her today…excited, full of life, her face sprouting a gigantic smile as she holds her new Bluetooth water bottle in her hand and dances around. She is my baby going off to college, that same little girl with light and adventure bursting from her eyes, ready to explore the next thing in her path. This time though I have to have the strength and courage to let her do it alone. She will always know where to find me and I will sit quietly waiting for her to return.