You’re Going to College and I’m Okay With That
My daughter is going off to college, and I am really okay with that. When I talk to friends with toddlers and teenagers, most of them say the same thing. “I never want my kids to leave. I want them to live with me forever”, to which I usually reply, “Seriously? What are you working toward? What are you training them for?”
A Brief Backstory
When I became a mom, it was through marriage. My son was 12 and my daughter 10. Soon after I became their mom, I began searching for my role in my kids’ lives. I knew I would be their mom, but I wasn’t exactly sure what that would mean. Then I received a very clear calling about who I could be for them. It went exactly like this: “You didn’t bring them into the world, but you will launch them into the world”. Well, okay. I could do that. I had been helping launch people into new directions and “lives” for years, and I had the skill-set. God knew that.
What “Okay” Doesn’t Mean?
When I say I am okay, I want to explain what it doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean I will not miss her. It doesn’t mean I need her to go. It doesn’t mean I don’t want her to come back and visit, and it doesn’t mean she won’t always have a place at home with us.
It does mean that, when she leaves, I will be okay. I will not fall apart. I will not lose my value, my worth, or my purpose. I am more than just Nicholle’s mom. I have gifts, a calling, and purpose apart from being a mom – gifts, calling and purpose I have been fortunate to direct toward my family.
If I know anything as an adult child, I know I still need my mom. I have developed a great relationship with her as an adult, and we have done the same with our kids. When something amazing happens, I call my mom to celebrate, and, when something difficult occurs, she is always there for me. She offers solutions and feedback, recipes, and life hacks. I have modeled for my children how to have a (relatively) healthy relationship as an adult child. My husband and I have discussed family conflict and conflict resolution with our children as we worked out conflict with our own parents. We have lived our lives as adult children wide open for our children to see – the good, the bad and the dysfunction. I simply cannot imagine a time when I won’t need (and want) my mom, and I cannot imagine a time when my daughter will not need (and want) me. That makes this easier.
She Is Ready…Mostly
My daughter is amazing. She is seventeen with a great head on her shoulders. She graduated high school early and will finish her associates degree one semester after high school graduation. She has been accepted to Texas Tech and will start her time there as a junior. Did I mention she is seventeen? However, she isn’t the typical teenager. She isn’t on social media. She doesn’t have many apps on her phone. She spends her free time writing and babysitting while taking college classes. She really is a rock star. She is in line for an internship this fall, and once she starts Tech, she will pursue journalism while she is preparing for law school. Seriously, this kid is legit. I would be lying if I didn’t say that part of her success is because I was helping her figure out who she was and who she wanted to be. When she discovered something she wanted to do or be, I helped her figure out what roadblocks might show up (like social media), and then she worked to avoid them. When her peers (and their social media and drama) became overwhelming, I explained to her that early graduation was an option. Then, together we fought to make it happen. She did the hard work at school, and I had the hard conversations. We make a great team, and half of that is because of her!
Empty-Nester at 36!
I am really beside myself. When I did this math a few years ago, it seemed really crazy. I felt like once my kids were out of the house, I would basically get to start an entirely new season of life and still be young enough to launch into a really incredible career. I also thought about traveling and seeing the world, then I remembered that we’re paying for Texas Tech and will be poor for the next few years! So, I get to start a new journey, build new relationships, take time to deepen the relationships I have, build my business, write more, rest more, drink more coffee, and enjoy some silence. I know it won’t last. There will come a time when I really long to have my family filling my home all the time again. I will long to have the kids and grandkids all around me, but I am being completely honest when I say that today is not that day. Today is the day when I am excited about this season, for all of us.