Thursday, August 13, 2015

Stop Crying, and Wave Goodbye!

If you can see out the back window, you've obviously forgotten something.

Today Juliette heads to West Virginia University to begin her freshman year.  Juliette is my niece, who likes to sit on my lap and read books about happy bunnies.  Okay, so maybe the last time that happened was sixteen years ago, but the picture on my fridge makes it seem like yesterday.  Yet time has marched on, the vehicle is packed, and the caravan will travel west for this soon-to-be Mountaineer, taking her home, on country roads.  (Go ahead, John Denver fans, sing along.  Just don't call her a Mountain Momma, just yet.  It will freak out her mother.)

This is a common occurrence this time of year, as parents across the globe send off their happy-bunny-loving babies.  Social media is full of posts from both students and parents, not wanting to say goodbye, and knowing that their worlds will be changing.

 Trust me, parents,  when I tell you that you need to remind yourself that the next four years will allow your heart to swell with pride equivalent, or greater to, the pride you experienced over the last four years while your kid was in high school. As parents, we're programmed to celebrate accomplishments, and every single one of them require that we loosen the hand-holding a little more. The good news is that God allows us to stand in awe of what is happening in their lives, celebrating and cheering with the same gusto we exhibited during their first steps. 

When kids call from college, they have stories to tell.  They giggle, they cry, they show excitement.  (When you call them, they are usually groggy and comatose, because they're asleep at 1 pm,  but I digress...) The communication may not be every single day, but the conversations will not be monosyllabic answers to the traditional "How was school?" question.  

The kids HAVE to talk to you, because you will never hear from the school again, except to write checks for the next semester's bill.  And they'll WANT to go back, because that's where their life is, now.  

Three years ago, I choked back tears as Kristin headed off to school and made us official "Empty-Nesters."  Here we are, facing the beginning of senior year, wondering where in the world the contents of that apartment at college are going to be stored when she moves out in May.  There are many miles to go before that happens, and even more for the underclassmen.

The good news for all of us is that heartstrings stretch over miles and miles without breaking, and that parental hearts swell with a pride at a speed greater than the Grinch's does at Christmas.  

Home will always be home, and the holidays are coming.  This year, for Christmas, you'll be getting a first semester's report card, (if the kid shares it with you!), and a tuition bill for next semester.  And the assurance that time and space are changing, because you just sent the kid to kindergarten, blinked, and .... well, you get the idea.