One by one, my children unintentionally and innocently keep knocking the wind out of me. First my son flew the coop, now my daughter is about to do the same.
Our poor youngest child, who is a sophomore in high school, is afraid all her dad and I are going to do when her sister leaves in August is stare at her. To which I answer, “Yep. Pretty much.”
The youngest child always wants the attention until he or she actually has it. I think I had stage fright and forgot my parting lines when Jack left for college. Since Caroline is two years behind him, I have had more time to rehearse those parting lines. Poor girl.
Maybe my lines include pithy advice. Maybe profound advice. But whatever it is, I always seem to have something more to say…don’t most moms? Just ask my husband about the validity of that point. AND THEN THERE WAS ONE! One of my biggest fears is regret. Some regret is inevitable, but a lot of it is preventable.
So, I am writing this post essentially so I won’t regret not penning my thoughts to my college-bound daughter. The following is not necessarily in order of importance, but just stuff that has been bouncing around like a ping-pong ball in my mind for years. Those years have now turned into weeks. There are a few things I would tell my daughter that are different from what I would tell my son. Who knows if a girl listens more than a boy. Who knows if they listen at all. But they can read. And hopefully, they will re-read.
Here we go:
1. While I wholeheartedly believe college will be some of the best 4 years of your life (notice I said “some”), don’t be shocked if it takes a bit of time to get into the groove and start enjoying it. It’s a major transition to go from living at home for 18+ years to being in a 15×10 foot room with someone other than family. Change can sometimes be tough and overwhelming, but remember that the unfamiliar will be familiar before you know it.
2. The reason I’ve been hard on you to keep your room tidy (notice I said “tidy”…I’ve adjusted my expectations to match reality) is because I have been training you to be a roommate and maybe even a wife someday. In a few short months, you will be sharing a quaint little room (capital Q) with someone you barely know. The best way to show your roommate respect from the get-go is by keeping your small space tidy.
3. Go to class. Every day. Only skip if you are so sick you can’t get out of bed. Or if you just want to come home for a visit – just kidding. Go to class.
4. Don’t cram for a test the night before. College isn’t high school. Pace yourself with your studies. Stay ahead of the game if possible. Unpreparedness breeds insecurity. There will be enough insecurity freshman year to bat away, so control what you can school-wise. See point 3.
5. Don’t be surprised if Sunday evenings are hard. Don’t ask me why. But they just can be. The blues might creep in – but the blues will go away. Allow yourself to feel them, but don’t let yourself park there.
6. Don’t be too trusting of people. Sounds mean, but there are a lot of weirdos out there who seem really nice but have bad intentions (physically and emotionally). Pay attention to your surroundings and always be aware when you are walking alone. Even if it’s in broad daylight, keep your head on a swivel. Remember that you are a third degree black belt – don’t be afraid to call upon those days of training if you ever need to.
7. Remember who you are. Remember whose you are. Yes, you are your dad’s and my precious child, but mysteriously enough, you are even more precious to God. Live like you are loved. Because you are.
8. You will make mistakes. That’s inevitable. You don’t have to call your dad and me if and when you make some mistakes. Since you are an adult now, you can be the judge of when it’s a big enough deal to let us know. But you know that we are always here for you. There is no such thing as too big of a mistake.
9. Find a church home and get settled as soon as you can. When kids leave home, there can be a tendency to drift, because nobody is around in the same way to hold them accountable. Just being aware of that possibility is half the battle. The right church family will mean so much to you. On that same note, remember that God is not there to hinder you or squash your fun, He is there to help you live in freedom, to soar, and continue growing into the person you were created to be. Cling to that truth.
10. Your sleep won’t be nearly as sweet if there’s a grievance you have with someone else. Take care of it in a timely manner and ask for forgiveness when necessary. When you own your end of it and clear the air, you can lay your head down on your pillow in peace. Humility produces a sweet aroma while pride stinks up a room.
11. Oh, and try to forgive as quickly as possible. There is no taste as bitter as the taste of un-forgiveness. Be a light in this dark world. You are about to live in a much bigger world than you have ever lived in before. You have no idea who will cross your path and who needs that extra dose of love and grace.
12.Foster your friendships. Life is more than your GPA (but GPA is important!) It’s crazy to think that the people you don’t even know now will become some of your very best friends. They will stand at the altar for you at your wedding, raise babies with you, and help you through life’s inevitable challenges. They will be the ones you always feel at home with – even if you live hundreds of miles apart and only see them every other year.
I am sure more thoughts will come to me as the weeks wane by and as we draw closer to making your bed at home for the last time (I mean YOU making your bed at home – ha). But above all else, remember that you are fiercely loved. While your absence will sting, we are so excited to see you take off and fly. Keep in mind that your little sister is going to miss you a lot (that’s my lame attempt at telegraphing to you that she would love to hear from you often). I will be leaving the light on by your bed every day next year. Every. Day. Love, Mom
Julie Wiesen is a wife to a great guy who is her complete opposite. She is the mother to three teens, whom she not only loves, but likes a whole lot. She loves to nest, cook and write about real life. Adjusting to life with one less bird in the nest caused her to start a blog, Leaving the Light On.