It has been said that if you give them wings they will fly.
And that is the saying that you keep running through your mind when your first child is preparing to leave the nest and go away to college. No one said it was going to be easy. Everyone says that by the time they finish high school, you are ready to kick them out of the house.
But it wasn’t like that for me. The summer before we had to let go was filled with a lot of mixed and complex emotions. It was exciting to hear the news about what dorm he will be living in and who the roommates were going to be. But what if? What if he didn’t get along with their roommates? What if the dorm was too far from campus or didn’t have air conditioning?
We went shopping for all the items on the “list” and all the items YOU thought they would need. (He needed medicine in case he caught a cold and mittens because he might have to walk too far to class… and an extra notebook, flip flops for the shower and several family photos to hang up so he would not get homesick). Most likely, he was just as scared as I was, but he would never show it.
Picking his freshman classes was an adventure. What was my child going to do in life? Where was his passion? What is he good at? Should I tell him what to take or let him figure it out himself?
Weeks before the big day, I laid awake at night wondering how I was going to manage the gaping hole in my heart from him not being here in our house… our home. Family time won’t seem right with him not being with us. It will just be so different.
One less mouth to feed… no more frozen waffles to buy at the store… how many times will I want to call him… or will he call me? Maybe he won’t mind if I Facetime him so I can see if he is homesick.
The day finally arrives when you are unloading the car into the place he will call home for (hopefully) the next 4 years. You want them to be happy and to succeed in this journey called life. It will be the place they will grow, find meaning in life and potentially meet the people that will stand by them on their wedding day. You are hoping they take full advantage of all the opportunities that lay ahead of them.
You will cry because you are proud and scared and because the time has gone too fast and you really don’t want to let them go. You know they are a little scared too, but you let them know you are a phone call away.
Beverly Beckman writes so eloquently in her blog from August of 2015. “Saying good-bye to your children and their childhood is much harder than all the pithy sayings make it seem. Because that’s what going to college is. It’s good-bye. The drive home alone without them is the worst. And the first few days. But then it gets better. The kids call, come home, bring their friends, and fill the house with their energy again. Life does go on.”
I was scared to give him wings, but now I can see that he soared on his own. The nest will always be here for him to come home to, but now he will use his own wings to carry him through life.