Between doing loads of laundry…..checking off that college packing list….swiping at those unbidden tears….
I popped the CD on the top of my music stack into the CD player and was taken back 40 years to my one and only year in college.
“You just call out my name, and you know where ever I am I’ll come running to see you again……You’ve got a friend.”
Carole King wrote the soundtrack to my freshman year at a Midwestern university. Whenever I hear those words, I am once again that frightened, pimply-faced teenager with the dream of becoming a journalist and changing the world.
Last week, as I helped our youngest pull his stuff together for the trip south to his Midwestern university, I struggled hard with conflicting emotions over this transition and what it will mean in both our lives. I am excited about what lay ahead for him, so proud of his choice
. But at the same time, I’m having maternal angst about his health, his safety, his friendships. Then there’s the flip side of this change in our family. After 20 years of homeschooling, nearly 30 of full-time parenting, my career has ended. Oh, I have plans
but I also know there will be more than a few lonely days when I’ll still be listening for this son’s car to pull in the drive, for his footsteps in the bedroom above the kitchen, for his music in the bathroom.
In the last few days before the move, we sensed some emotional “moving on” — a bit of breaking away that needed to happen. It
was time to shove off from the dock, and that last push was a little painful. The leave-taking of this guy, the last one of four, represents more than sending the baby off to college. This last one has been the standard-bearer for the brothers who have gone before him. As long he was still in our house, when his brothers came home for a visit we were “family.” More than two sets of legs under the kitchen table, more than a pair of dirty glasses in the kitchen sink. Families who start and end with one child may not relate, but when your house has been filled with boy smells for almost as long as you can remember, the sudden absence of that last product of your parenting years is profound.
And still, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So on this day-after-dropping-him-off, I’m reflecting on words of encouragement shared with me over the past several weeks:
- From our pastor’s mother: “You’re always a Mom, and you’re only as happy as your saddest child.”
- From the pulpit: “Home should be a soft place to land.”
- From a good friend also sending her youngest away to college: “It’s easier when you know they’re happy and where they should be.”
- From my 26-year-old: “It will be weird for him the first couple of times he comes home, but he’ll get over that.”
- And from a plaque that hangs on a wall near my desk: “Children are not things to be molded, but persons to be unfolded.”
I have tucked in my Bible a prayer card given to parents at this weekend’s farewell chapel service. I’ll pray it often, and I’ll add this to my prayers….that he’ll come away from his college years with at least one deep friendship and one great truth.
And while I’ll always be his Mom, I think it’s okay — in fact maybe it’s time — to offer a hand of friendship to this man-child of mine.
“Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I’ll be there.
You’ve got a friend.”