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To all the college "First-timers"

To all the first- time parents sending their babies off to college. I say “babies” because lets be real,

they will forever be our babies. My first baby just graduated college, so four years ago I drove her four and a half hours away from our home. Not knowing what was going to hit me. The emotions that would come getting her ready, the heartache as I drove home, the worry when I did not hear from her or the emptiness in our house with just one gone. Here is what I want to say to you “first-timers”. It will be very difficult to say good-bye or see you soon. Remember dropping them off at Kindergarten and the overwhelming emotions of them being seperated from us, like there was no way they were old enough to be with out us. And it was only for a half of a day. This dropping off is more like weeks or months that you will not see them, but you still question if they are old enough to be with out us. Tears will most likely stream down your face and you may feel as if you were punched in the gut. You may try to stay upbeat and happy, not wanting them to see you sad, because they are so excited to on their own. Good luck with that idea, I threw it right out the window as we walked to our car to leave. I grasped onto her as if I was never letting her go or would never see her again. Tears flowing like a river during flood season, I mustered the words “I love you, please be safe”. She giggled at me for my tears and replied “mom, I will be fine I promise. I love you too” That is it, she no longer needs me, and she has finally grown up. I am going to get in the car and never hear from her. That is where I was totally mistaken. You will miss them dearly. As you drive away and continue home the heartache may set in. This rush of what did I just do. . . leaving my baby. The not going to see them every day, along with, when will the long weekends get here so they can come home, plays over and over in your head. You find yourself with “countdowns until Z comes homes” instead of countdowns to Christmas. Although, that is a good one to put in your phone because they are home for a month! You miss the extra set of feet pounding the floor through your house. The companion to go get coffee or sit and watch shows you both enjoy. The empty seat at the table makes all the emotions of missing them come right to the surface along with it was their turn to do the dishes. Taking my girl to college and missing her like I did gave me a whole new perspective on missionary moms. Those girls have strength. I at least got to call her and see her on long weekends or trips I may have taken because I missed her so much. Do not question yourself. I wasted more time doubting my parenting. Panicking that I did not give her all she would need to be on her own. I quickly realized by her actions, I had given her more than enough and she proved to me she WAS listening when I felt she wasn't. Do not question your parenting, trust me you did good. You have prepared them as much as they need to be for where they are at. You laid a great foundation for them to now build on top of. You gave them more than you know and honestly, every time you thought they were not listening, they were not only listening they were also taking notes. One day they will prove this to you. You have done a great job with your parent title. Be prepared! This is one I wish I would have been warned about. See as we leave them they make us feel they are ready to do this on their own. No sign of them going to miss us, maybe because we were wrapped up in knowing we were already missing them. Then you get the phone call! Now they all will play out differently, here is how mine went:

- Hello - Hey mom - Hey Z how's things going? - Good! What are you doing? - I'm in the salon working today. How was class? - Ummm it was fine. What's dad doing? - He is still at the Den. - Oh! How's school going for Bent and Dem? - I think ok. They seem to like their classes. - Who does Bent have for fitness? - Ummm I think Rathbum! - Mom it's RATHBUN! Giggle! Giggle! - Yeah him I think she has him. - Oh cool! Is it nice there today? - Yeah a bit cool. Do you have practice? - In like an hour. - Sweet! I'm super proud of you! You seem to be doing good. - Yeahhhhh, I guess. - Is dad home yet? - Not yet sister. But you can call him, he'd love to talk I'm sure. - Ok I think I will. Thanks mom. Tell Bent and Demi Hi. - Ok I will, love you sister! - Love you guys mom! - Bye! - Bye!

I hung up and cried! I could hear I AM HOMESICK in her voice. You need to be ready IT WILL COME! You will get that phone call, it may sound different than mine but it will come. Be strong and give them support and love on them as much as you can through the phone. They do miss you and they do need to know what is going on at home. Just when we think they are all grown up they call and say I miss you and wanted to hear your voice and see how things are at home! Be strong! This is exactly what our role has always been to guide them as they grew, give them the tools they will someday need to help themselves through life. We always knew this day would come, be strong for yourself Momma you have worked your ass off for the last 18 years! Enjoy! This will be a transition period in your journey as a parent. No longer are you taking phones away, giving them more chores or telling them they can't go. You now get to start building a really cool friendship with your child. One you will cherish more than any friendships you have right now. You get to sit back and watch the beauty of what you instilled in them blossom! Enjoy every minute of it! Stop everything! You may think your phone won't ring or they won't come home until Christmas, in reality your phone is going to ring and they may surprise you when they walk in the door on a long weekend. It is then you stop everything and I mean stop. When you see their cute face pop up on your cellphone, because you set it up in their profile when they call, you pause everything you are doing to talk. I made a conscious decision the day I left her that it did not matter what I was doing I would answer her phone call and visit. It was the best decision I made. There are many calls I hold dear to my heart from her that first year. Decide now what you are going to do when the call comes. Just my voice! Best of luck to all my first-timers! I pray for guidance for your babies and strength to their mommies and daddies. Just so you know the second time around IS NOT ANY EASIER! I bawled all the way to Caldwell! 21 miles from my home!

I am now preparing for my very last baby to start her senior year in high school and this time next year I will be a third timer! Congrats on all your accomplishments! You got them to graduate Kindergarten! Made it through Elementary School, some with a few broken bones or stitches. You survived Middle School and so did they, even with the mean girls and bully ish boys. You got them to see how important High School was even if some skimmed through by their shoestrings. You got them through their first love and even harder their first break up. You all survived PACE and SENIOR PROJECTS! You did everything needed for your child and you have been a blessing to them! Now hold on for this next ride called COLLEGE! Love and Blessings to all

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