We got some really exciting and frightening news in my house this week. My 17-year-old received her first college acceptance letter. I thought that, upon her birth, I had gone through every emotion I possibly could. I was so completely wrong. It was really scary to receive that letter, the one that said, “Congratulations, you’re about to embark on an amazing journey. You’ll move away from home. Your mom will not see you every day. She will no longer nag you to pick up your clothes or put your dirty dishes in the dishwasher. Your life is about to become more epic than you could ever imagine! The parties! The late night walks across campus alone! The strangers putting roofies in your drink! Dude, we’re so excited to have you aboard!”
Okay, that’s not REALLY what it said, but that’s how I read it. It was always so easy knowing I’d have to fight to drag her out of bed every morning. So comforting, seeing that pile of clothes on the bathroom floor (EVERY single morning, after I had asked her to remove it the night before). But in less than one year, there will no longer be dirty dishes in her room, no more piles of dirty clothes on the bathroom floor, and she will have to get herself up and to class on time with no help from me.
I’m not going to lie. I won’t miss those mornings. Who am I kidding? I’m totally going to miss them. The thought of her being three hours away and one of over 20,000 students on campus, literally makes me sick to my stomach. Because here’s the thing: while it’s a BIG change for her in her life, it’s also affecting me tremendously. That’s something I never, EVER gave thought to. Until now.
It’s a huge change for both of us. I need to prepare myself to let her go. How can I do that? How can I let my baby go off and join 20,000 other young adults on a college campus three hours away?
The other night she was in my room, asking me to play with her hair. We talked about the upcoming fundraiser for the band’s trip over spring break, about her boyfriend and why she likes him, how he makes her feel. We talked about her wanting to take the dogs with her when she goes away to college. I listened, intently. I savored every moment of that conversation as I played with her hair. The time will go by so fast, faster than I want, and before you know it, we’ll be packing her up and taking her to campus.
I remember my first day on campus when my mom drove me and helped me move my things into my dorm. She was so strong, my mom. So brave. I was the only one at home at that time. My brother was already married and moved away. I was the last to leave the nest, and I remember how overwhelmed yet excited I was that day. New faces, new friends, new experiences, and I never once gave thought to how she felt. She hugged me so tight when she left. I remember that hug now. But I quickly forgot it as I walked excitedly back to my dorm and into my new college life.
And now I’m the mom. I’ll be driving my daughter, hugging her goodbye and driving away, knowing that she’s ready to start a new chapter in her life. Knowing that I need to adjust to that change. Knowing that things will always be different, from that moment in time, things well never be the same in my life or in hers. And I have to let go.