Leaving Them at College

Zach college 6On August 31, 2014 we left Zach at college. Ten hours away. Lots of people do it every single year. Many of you have done it, survived, and are no worse for the wear.

I’m in process…

Zach - U of MThere are few circumstances in life in which we can so acutely feel opposite  feelings simultaneously; this is one of them. I could not be more excited for Zach. This is the university he has wanted to attend for so long, delivering him to this campus was exciting!

But then hugging him one last time Sunday morning was one of the hardest things I’d done in a very long time. Ten hours is a long way away.

Family Support :)
Family Support :)

When he stayed at home his freshman year and attended Indiana-Purdue University near home I had to get used to him suddenly being around some of the days – in my space. It was different after years of a quiet house while they all went to school, but I adjusted and we found a comfortable rhythm. Now it’s very quiet once more and I’m adjusting again. I’m confident I’ll be comfortable in short order, that’s not exactly the hard part. The hard part is waiting for him to feel comfortable and connected all those miles away. He will. I know he will. But this is the hard part.

Zach - family shotSo it’s both ~ happy and hard. When I feel sad, I promise you it’s not that I want him here, he was ready, prepared and eager for his next phase.  It’s just that launching your kids out of the nest leaves most of us feeling empty inside for a spell. My sister called the morning of Day 1, before she called I had assessed how I was doing and the verdict was well. The sun was shining (a guaranteed spirit lifter) and I was ready to move through the day, but then she asked how I was doing and I burst into tears. Oh my goodness, that took even me by surprise.

Courtney joined the road trip to Minnesota
Courtney joined the road trip to Minnesota

There does exist a bit of a grieving period. I will never again be in this particular mothering phase with this particular child ~ the door is closing. The little guy who needed so much from me his first four years, who endeared himself to me with his adorable voice, scuffed cowboy boots, blue eyes, white-blond hair, whose love of a night-time song in the rocking chair, and whose miniature hand disappeared in mine, well…he’s growing up and suddenly one day my hand felt small in his.

I do realize he’s been growing all along, but trekking 600 miles across the midwest caused it to hit me in a new way. There have been so many “lasts” along this mothering journey ~ and there are times you become keenly aware that you didn’t even notice many of them as they came to pass. When did the last tea party happen with his sisters? Where are those cowboy boots, and when was the last time he held my hand as we walked to get ice-cream?

U of M with Minneapolis Skyline
U of M with Minneapolis skyline

Happy and hard. When the hard part washes over me, I tell myself this is part of the process, so step in and feel it. The happy, content, and proud part exists underneath all of what I am experiencing. We invested much into raising future adults after all, not children, and he keeps taking the next steps in that process. This does my heart good.

Saying good-bye to Emma was hard too.
Saying good-bye to Emma was hard too.

 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11
May the Lord bless and keep you Zach.

3 thoughts on “Leaving Them at College

  1. So good! I have a feeling I will need to remind myself to feel all that comes with these processes. I tend to shove them down because feeling them is overwhelming. Thank you for your wisdom in this.

    1. Janna,
      You’re right – feeling them is overwhelming. I’ve had to work on feeling the hard stuff. I would shove it down or dismiss it as well. For me, the feelings leaked out in other ways, so now i just let it wash over me. I put words to the feelings and soak in them for a bit. It seems to help me process and normalize what I’m going through.
      Thanks for your encouraging words. :)

  2. Great post! The process has begun for me with Cam’s senior year & I’m trying to prepare myself for the adjustments that are to come. Love your insight.

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