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Sad College Goodbye

Tis the season to drop off your college bound child. God made sure the driving age of 16 gives kids plenty of time to become independent before college and let everybody get used to the new dynamics of not always having your child at your house all the time like you did when they were younger. So after many trips where your child says they’re going to get gas and they don’t come home for like 4 hours because they “ran into” all of their friends there, you say to yourself that you almost can’t wait until they go to college because then you won’t know where they are all the time and you’ll worry less about them. Or when they’re picky about what to eat for dinner, you think how nice it’ll be that they’ll be forced to expand their horizons through peer pressure and limited choices at college. Also, when they procrastinate on school projects you can’t help but wishfully think about the days they’ll be away at school and you won’t have to suffer through the anxiety that causes all of you because you won’t know about all the deadlines any more. But before you know it, it’s move-in day and you promised yourself and your whole family that you won’t cry and make a scene until the ride home. When you pull up to the school it’s so nice because they allow you to park on the sidewalk, and chipper students with airport sized bins with wheels pull alongside your vehicle and help you load up everything in one trip! But when you walk the long hall to their dorm room, panic sets in and you start spewing last minute words of wisdom like, “Now remember, don’t take a shower in thunderstorms. And don’t wash reds with white clothes. Don’t forget when there’s 4 of you going to a party, leave with the same 4. Leave no man behind!” Your child responds with, “Mom, I’m not going into battle. Remain calm. I’ve got this!” When you get to their room you’re focused on hooking up their printer and wifi and helping them get settled and not on the goodbye, until your child turns to you and gives you that “I’m going to miss you but it’s high you time leave please” look. All promises of not crying instantly go out the window when you see the look and get the long, heartfelt hug. You feel a lump in your throat and one of your eyes start leaking without you even realizing it. You try to be brave and talk but you don’t even recognize your own voice it sounds so sad. So for their benefit, you say goodbye and pivot to go back down that long hallway, without them! That’s when your whole body defies your wishes. A stream is now flowing from your eyes, your stomach is doing flip flops and wants to reverse gears, your lump in your throat is now preventing you from breathing, and your legs are so weak you have to focus on walking. All the moms you’re meeting in the hallway won’t make eye contact because they don’t want you to get them started! You can’t help but notice a weird mixed reaction from your husband who has a tear in his eye and a strange happy skip in his step as he’s working out his own mixed emotions. Eventually you make it to your car, shut the door, and burst into the ugly cry! Hoover Dam has collapsed and your sobbing out loud at this point. Your husband asks you, “Hey can you keep an eye out so that I don’t hit any students leaving this sidewalk?” But you answer, “I don’t care that it takes them 4 hours to get gas! Or that I have to cook two different meals so they’ll eat, or that they wait until the last minute to do school work! When are they coming back!?!” Your husband answers, “Hmmmm, ok you’re not making any sense right now. Why don’t you close your eyes and go to sleep and we’ll talk again next week.” You’d think you’d run out of tears on the 3-hour ride home, but nope! Still plenty there! Still plenty there for the next few weeks as you walk past their empty bedroom and get out one less plate for dinner every night too. You know it’s for their own good, but boy it’s still a tough pill to swallow! Best wishes to all of the students going off to college this month, and good luck to all of the parents letting go and saying goodbye! You’re not alone!

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