Road signs, banners, and energetic coeds shouting “You’re with us!” directed our steps and welcomed our daughter as she first set foot onto her college campus. The next few days were all about game-day traditions, activity fairs, and introductions. Student leaders and organized events helped our daughter transition into an exciting new phase of life she knew nothing about, because no matter how much she had anticipated and planned, she had never lived it.
But what about us parents? We too are thrust into an unfamiliar place, when after 18 years of raising our kids we return to a very different landscape after they leave home. I woke up to a quiet I was unsure how to fill, with no road signs or tour guides. And instead of feeling connected, I felt a little left behind and unsure of my next move. What had I done wrong? It’s not like I hadn’t thought about and understood this change was coming, so why did I feel so unprepared? I needed a little help navigating this new place. I decided to take a page out of my daughter’s college handbook and sign up for a campus tour of my new life.
I began by taking a long look at my starting point – me. I focused more attention on my diet, health care, exercise plan, spiritual foundation, and feeling good about my accomplishments. My next stop included ways to spend more time with my husband, parents, and friends. I moved on and saw the opportunity to challenge myself with career options, projects, and places I’ve always wanted to visit. I realized the speed I followed my new road map was not important, only that I moved forward. Fueled by a lifetime of treasured memories, I set out to make more. When I did, I discovered an exciting new world that still had plenty of room for kids, care packages, and parts of my old routine. I was grateful for my new campus when I realized it was more about beginnings than endings.
Now, having sent another of our kids off to college, I’m amazed at not only how I’ve changed, but how my relationships with my kids have grown. Some of the things I was so worried about letting go of haven’t crossed my mind, and what initially felt so empty now feels full with opportunity and a new kind of excitement. I’ve added much more to my life than was taken away, and I’m excited to see that continue. Am I looking forward to my youngest leaving the house? Absolutely not! Will I be OK when he does, and always be “mom” to my three kiddos? Absolutely.
If you’re in need of a campus tour, join us for our workshop from 6:30 – 8:30 pm September 8th, at River Pointe Church. There’s no cost, just RSVP so we can hold you a spot. We’ll talk about what it’s like to send our kids off to their next step after high school, share stories that weren’t funny at the time ( but can be laughed at now), and offer insight and practical steps you can take as you explore this new phase of life.