The last day

We are at the tail end of the very last day that I will have all my children living at home full time.   Tomorrow morning we load up the car and deliver our oldest daughter off to college. 

The minutes tick away.  We sit reading together this afternoon in the sunny living room in a companionable silence.   A while ago we selected family photos together for her new computer’s screen saver. Familiar faces to grace her dorm room.

 Every once in awhile I look up from what I’m doing to ask if she remembered to pack some trifle.  She reassures me each time.

I wonder if she is nervous.  She seems serene, though at bedtime the last few evenings she has nestled in for longer hugs than usual. 

I wonder what I have forgotten to tell her, to teach her.  What grievous gaps have I left?  Will they cause her harm?  She is the thoughtful type.  Self-contained and steady.  Will she ask for help if she needs it?

I feel clutchy and clucky, mother-hennish, even a little teary.  But I want to send her off with confidence, not angst.   So I try to keep it normal, keep it light.   I am glad she has this opportunity, and excited to hear all about her new life.  

I hope she works hard and does well and finds much joy in her new adventure.   I am confident in her ability and her level-headed ways. 

But inside me there is a weight and a sadness.  Because even if I email her every day, even if we burn up all the minutes on her graduation-gift cellphone the first month, even if she comes home every weekend like she plans, she is slipping away from me and things will never be quite the same.

My baby.

1988

My baby.

2006

God bless you and keep you.

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  1. Having two small ones and currently being sleep deprived, this was especially poignant to me! It made my eyes water! Thanks for the precious reminded to hold it all dear at every moment! All too soon my little ones will be where your daughter is!

  2. Oh, gosh, I'm teary! I'm sure she'll do great. She'll probably find a group of young ladies like herself to hang out with and to study with! Just remember, everything you taught her will always be there in the back of her mind!

  3. My only chick starts college this coming Monday. I know exactly how you feel, Mary. At least my baby will only be 15 minutes away in physical distance, but it seems much further in emotional distance. All we can do is pray and hope that we did our best the last 18 years to prepare them to make it on their own. Our Mother's hearts sure don't want to listen to all this logical stuff, though, do they?
    We can pray for each other and for our kids, Mary. 🙂

  4. Oh wow!!! Mary, I would never guess that you could be "old enough" (not that that's old!!!) to have a daughter going to college!!! I can't imagine all the emotions your whole family must be feeling…..just because….as you said….things will never be quite the same…..though, that's not necessarily a bad thing…it's an unknown thing….and that's always an adjustment! Bless you all as you move into a new season of life!

  5. See, it's funny, the way you share your family on this blog, because my very first impulse was to say, oh, have her email me if she needs any college advice, you know, 'cause I've been there very recently……and then I realized that I don't actually know your family, you just share them in a way that's so vivid and human and real that I feel like I do.

    The point being, thanks for sharing this, and prayers for you and your biggest girl through the transition. And, you know, if she DOES want to email me…..she can. 😛

  6. Mary….ouch. I've sent three away and it never gets easier. You're right on all accounts–you wouldn't hold them back for the world, but everything does change. Ouch.

  7. Oh wow. The passing of time. It's a big deal, isn't it?

    She'll love it.

  8. My heart is gripping. These are the moments we dread, but it's also the moments we give back our babies, once again, into God's care. She's a wonderful girl and she's gonna be a success!

  9. I'm resisting sobbing here Mary! All God's blessings in her journey and the rest of you adjusting.

  10. Tears over here.

  11. Oh dear….where are the Kleenex when you need them? I think I need to buy shares in a tissue company. I have 1 boy already away and 3 more going away this fall… only 1 left at home. It IS hard.

  12. May the Lord guide your daughter in this next chapter in her life.

    I love how you talk of her with such confidence. I hope I can talk of my children that way when it's time for them to leave the nest.

  13. I'm completely teary after reading this. I have a ways to go before we're at this point, but I know it will pass all too quickly. God bless you and your baby as she heads off for this next chapter.

  14. This was me two years ago. I know where you both are right now. But, I will tell you, and perhaps it will help. I have needed my mom more in these past two years than I think I have ever needed her before. I have also never appreciated her more. And it must be said, I continue to come home every weekend. God Bless you both, good luck this weekend.

  15. Well, Mary, if you won't cry, I sure will! I'm already horrified at sending my oldest to school next year–I'm hoping my husband will allow me to homeschool, for a multitude of reasons, but one is definitely because I'm just not ready to let him go yet.

    God bless you both–college changes things, but your relationship with her will mature into more of a friendship than ever before. Mine did with my mom when I went to college.

    🙂

  16. *Hug* Been there, I've soooooo been there. I felt like I'd die when I watched our oldest board his plane for a two year mission. I felt panic close in when our next oldest backed out the driveway for school 900 miles away, and I'm secretly harboring the hope that the rest of the children will live at home forever.

  17. Oh, my friend, let us all know how it goes.

  18. A whole new chapter where she will be the author and you – her faithful reader.

  19. Wow… I've read some posts today about mother's sending their babies to Kindergarten… you are taking the step past that.

    I am watching my parent's do the same thing with their youngest… my little sister. Quite a milestone!

  20. I can't imagine sending one of mine off to college. I still have a while, but I'm sure time will go much faster than I think.

  21. I am teary eyed with you. We have a few years to go until college time but occasionally the passage of time leaves me breathless. I can understand the emotions.

    ((hugs))

  22. So touching Mary… I'm sure she'll do fine, she grew up in such a loving family.

    I remember seeing my mother teared up as my family drove away from my dorm for the first time. I was a bit scared to go on the journey, but at the same thing so excited for all the new things to come. Five years later, almost to the exact day, I really think leaving the nest was the best thing I could have done. Not that I wasn't happy living with my family, but living on my own taught me so much and I matured to the adult I am now. Most importantly, it showed me how precious my family is to me. Being away from them put things into perspective and I really understood how parents and siblings are by your side no matter what.

  23. My heart and prayers are with you. My girls are only 2 & 4 so I cannot even imagine what you must be feeling. When I think of days like these it kills me inside. I guess you must grow as a parent with every new stage your children go through huh?. anyway I will pray for her too, she is beautiful and very wise looking. I think she will be very wise in her chices, Good job Mary:))

  24. Wow…we Moms must stick together! Just yesterday I posted about sending our oldest son to college. We moved him into his dorm on Wednesday and I've managed to survive almost TWO days so far! Yes, we email. Yes, we phone often. But you're right – we've moved into a new phase of life that's both exciting and frightful. I enjoyed your post. I could SO relate!

  25. Hugs to you Mary. She's gonna do great. It sounds like you have taught her well.

  26. Eek!! My day is coming and I can't even think about it right now. It's crazy to think that everything I did from the moment of my kids' births was in preparation for letting go. {{{hug}}}

  27. I'll be thinking of you Mary!
    Just yesterday, my 3rd grader got teary. When I asked him why he said that he felt like he was getting big too fast. That his baby self was covered up by his 8-year old self. It was all I could do not to cry too.

    I started to really appreciate my mom once I went to college, I was forever calling for laundry help (does hot or cold water get out X) and quickly realized that no one else really cares if you are sick or not feeling good, no one except mom.

    Hug your little ones. It will be a year of growth and change for everyone

  28. What a beautiful post.

  29. my baby is a sophmore now, she's been living on her own for almost a year and I still miss her terribly. I am surprised by the hole I feel in my heart, even though I still have 5 home to take care of, and laugh with, and tuck in at night. And even though I am SO happy for her, and proud that she's doing well, and excited for the life she is living.
    I wouldn't have it any other way, but I miss her so much.

    Who knew?

  30. I think this is the most beautiful post you've ever written. What a powerful testament to the love you have for your daughter. As you wipe your eyes, be proud of the great girl you've raised.

    Suzanne

  31. Well I have no words of encouragement for you. I still have 8 years left before my oldest ventures off to college. Stay strong, I'm sure you've taught her well and she will be just fine. Good luck to her and to you surviving without her in the house.

  32. Awww she looks just like you too! I'm sure you did a wonderful job in teaching her. And whatever she didn't learn from you she will learn how to figure out…which is sometimes the best lesson.

  33. Mary, I'm totally confident that she will do absolutely awesome there. She has a good, steady head on her shoulders, and knows how she wants to live. She'll do it. My prayer is that she will have fun, too, since that's such a hugely important part of college. I hope we still get to see her 🙂

  34. Oh Crumb! My kids are 5,3, and 1, and I'm sitting here bawling because they will be leaving off for college entirely too soon. I've had five years with my oldest … have I tought him what he needs so far? Will I make-up for what I've missed in my limited 12 years before he gets to the college point? I'm just a kid myself, and already I'm imagining my kids heading off! Augh. You're sending her off to college, as I get ready to send my oldest to kindergarted. Completely different, I know, but we both still are at a point where we have to let go just a little more. (((HUGS))) I'm sure she'll do wonderfully at school!

  35. WOW I am really touched by this post as I am most of your posts I wish your daughter the best as she embarks on this new adventure. May the Lord Bless and Keep her and make the transition easy for her (and you of course). Oh to be 18 again and off to college, how exciting!

  36. Our morning paper has a feature about the incoming state university students. All Freshmen are required to live in a dorm, unless they have obtained special permission to stay with family members.
    Each of our sons was able to live at home (two blocks from the student union building) for the first two years of their college life.
    It makes it a bit easier to adjust for us parents.

    Living in a university town, with college professors, department chairmen, office assistants, their houses and families around the block, well, I tend to forget the sentiments of sending the offspring away.

    To us, this is our bread and butter, and the roofs over our heads. We have anticipation and appreciation for a steady supply of 18 year olds eager to get on with higher education and whatever life has to offer.

    My husband, a Computer Support Specialist, calls this week his H*LL Week because of all the newbie computers trying to get connected to the servers and systems.
    He worked 13 hours Wednesday, and 11 yesterday.

    The energy for this time of year goes beyond measure!
    ~~love and Huggs, Diane

  37. Tears running down my cheeks over here . . . running for your beauty going off on her own, even though you've made her ready . . . running for the piece of your heart that you'll never get back, because she'll take it with her . . . running for the short seven years I will traverse until I am in your shoes . . . running for the beauty of this tribute to God's gift and how we all have been blessed.

    Thanks, Mary, mom of one child(arrow) mid-launch

  38. Christin Apuan says:

    Hi Mary. Wow. This one has me in tears. We love them, and teach them the best we can. We pray that they have a firm foundation in Christ and that He will send His angels to hold them in safe keeping.

    Love and prayers tonight!

    ~Christin~

  39. I'm not at all ready for that day – I have a ways to go mind you but just thinking of it brings tears to my eyes. We really only have a short time with them don't we?! We need to make every moment count.

  40. This was a beautiful post, Mary.

  41. Oh, I can so imagine how you are feeling!
    It's so hard to let our babies go!
    Yesterday, I wrote about a seemingly trivial milestone in 7 yr old's little life, that made her feel sad and clingy, and me, too (inside.) I had my children later in life so at the age of 43, my oldest is still young…but she's not a baby anymore and I can see how quickly time is fleeting by.

    Blessings to you at this time when you entrust your "baby" to God as she tries her wings a bit. (((HUGS)))

  42. Sweet. Makes me think how quickly mine will grow up. Thanks for sharing!

  43. Oh, Mary. May I offer a different perspective from the cultural norm without belittling your initial feelings about this? Yes, there is always the quiver of the unknown of what life will hand them. There is the fact that they are not physically present to the same degree. But it is my experience both as a "grown child" and as a mom of grown children that there is a definite potential for relationship with your adult children that you could never have with them when they were more completely under your care. My 2 that have graduated to adulthood have always returned from their experiences with a new appreciation for home and family. And its not that they didn't have it before. They thrill me with their conversations, insights, and convictions. Its like the difference between being aware of what your commitments and priorities should be when you get married versus being in the midst of the marriage relationship. Ah! Then you can talk to all of those married people on a different level that was not possible before. Having adult children is the fruit of your efforts with God's blessings. The loss is only real and sustained for those who must suffer through losing the physical link which was the only real link with their kids. Even our child who died as a young teenager went through this adultification to a degree. The 2 year illness and watching our dealing with it matured her. Facing death with a Biblical foundation caused her to grapple with issues that others try to avoid their whole life. Our relationship was able to grow very deep. Rejoice in your success this far, pray for her continued maturity, and revel in the blossom of adult comaraderie that can be had with someone so bonded to you.

    Blessed to be your friend

  44. Your a good mom

  45. awwwww, hugs to the mommy!! That has got to be so hard!

    Beautiful post.

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