So, summer is over and the kids are back in school…and all the parents said…hallelujah!
For those of us who sent our kids off to college this year, well…
We have a different story.
We’ve done the dorm shopping, paid the tuition bill, purchased the parking passes, set up the meal plan, move them in, and we’ve given them the keys to a car – if they’re lucky.
We’ve said our goodbyes and had a few good cries already…for some, maybe a little happy dance at the idea of an empty nest (don’t feel guilty, it’s perfectly normal).
Either way, a few weeks later, reality has settled in and we realize they are really gone.
There’s the obvious signs, of course…the house feels empty, there’s an extra seat at the dinner table, and there’s less laundry to be done (can I get an Amen?).
Then, there’s those less obvious indicators…our rhythm is off, we feel a little lost, and we have a relentless ache for the way it used to be.
Sure, as parents, we knew this time would eventually happen. It’s only natural. In fact, this is what we’ve been preparing them for all along – to fully experience this exciting time in their lives. We TRULY are HAPPY for them. Really.
Everything is as it should be.
So why does it hurt so much?
I’ve come to realize, after going around this tree twice now, that it doesn’t matter how much we prepare for goodbye…saying goodbye to our babies, no matter what the circumstances, will always be hard to do.
I think we learn how to cope with change. We eventually adapt to our new family dynamic. But, the process is difficult. It takes time.
The truth is, a significant part of who we are has moved out of the house, and out of our reach. Living and blossoming apart from us. There’s nothing easy about adapting to that new reality as a parent.
If this is your first year away from your college baby, I want to encourage you to hang in there…it gets easier. It’s normal to go through a range of emotions about this new phase in life – for you, your family and your child. You’ll have good days, and then not so great. There will be a few more tears shed, on both sides. But, you need to know that your job as a parent isn’t over…it’s simply in transition – preparing for the next phase of your child’s life.
I want to encourage you with what has encouraged me the most during the years my two older girls have flown the nest: Prayer.
I bet you thought I was going to quote a famous Scripture passage, or something 😉 Well, I might..but, the truth is – for me – praying God’s Word over my children has been my life-line. It has tethered my heart to theirs, and given me peace – not to mention the powerful affect it has had on their lives.
Praying for our middle daughter each day, who is a junior in college this year, has helped me to stay emotionally connected to her, even though we are miles apart. I’ve prayed for God’s favor, and His hand of protection on her. Wes and I have prayed that He will bring her godly friends that will encourage her and speak vision and life into her goals and dreams. We’ve prayed for wisdom beyond her years, and that God will order her steps and give her the desire and boldness to follow His ways – whatever the cost.
I’ve reminded God many times of His promise in the Book of Proverbs that says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart far from it.” (Prov. 22:6 KJV) Wes and I gave our best at training our kids in God’s ways, and encouraging them to cultivate and use the gifts God has given each of them.
Our oldest daughter, Gabby, turns 30 this year. She is a wonderful mom and wife, as well as a gifted artist and photographer. This is Tory’s second year away from home (having lived with us her freshmen year in college, before our move to Wilmington). She’s doing great in her studies. I mean GREAT! We’re so proud of her and all she has accomplished. It’s a happy time in her life, and we’re happy for her.
If you’re a college mom, finding it hard to cope with this new stage in your life, let me encourage you to pray. You’ve done a great job, as a parent. But, your job is far from over. Now is the time to pray. They need it, and you do too 🙂