I woke up in a hotel in Missouri and stared at the face of my youngest child. I was leaving her at college today, and I cried like I was watching an ASPCA commercial.
Panic descended as I realized that today was the day I stopped taking kids to school and going to soccer games and braiding hair (just kidding – due to my lack of skills my daughter has fixed her own hair since she was two).
How could I leave my littlest acorn in a place that was seventeen hours from home? How could I leave her after the briefing the campus police gave us on finding “safe” places if she’s being followed? How could I leave her knowing the amount of alcohol I consumed in my first year of college?
I knew the brief terror she’d face when we drove away, because I felt it when my parents left me my freshman year. Dad hugged me and said, “I’m going to miss my little redbird,” which confused me because he’d never called me that before. Then he started to cry. Mom hugged me and shoved me towards the steps of my dorm in her gentle, motherly, I’ve-had-enough-and-you-need-to-go-to-college kind of way.
As my parents pulled away, I wanted to chase the car like a dog. But instead, I turned and faced my future. And by that night I was leaning out my window looking at the faces of college guys as they screamed for my underwear. It was great.
How to Let Your Baby Go . . .
Leaving kids in college is hard enough, but if it’s your only child or last child, there’s more at play than you might realize. You’re letting go of the most exhausting, amazing role of a lifetime; you’re releasing the final vestige of youth.
Now, when you show up at a high school football game, you’ll just be the sad older person with a quilt and a thermos who can’t let it go.
All your excuses for staying young are being dropped at the front of a college dorm.
So, how do you handle it?
Here are my top six recommendations for letting that acorn drop . . .
Your littles acorns might call a few times because they’re lonely, but know that they are learning how to live without you, just like you’re learning to live without them.
And like two oaks with their roots intertwined, you will both become stronger without ever breaking the bond.
Because below the surface of life, and underneath words like “Mom, you just don’t get it,” you know that your roots are holding on to each other as tightly as possible.
Whether our little acorns like it or not, we’re forever intertwined.
Now go sip on a drink and read a book.
Not because you have to, but because you can.
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