When August 1st arrived, I knew it was real. The countdown to dropping our oldest daughter off at college was on and moving fast.
I’m processing lots of feelings and emotions over here…which I’m sure is delightful for everyone around me! In the midst of that, I’m gathering encouragement for when that day arrives.
These five thoughts are helping me so far. And while my situation deals with college separation, it could also apply to a child starting any new phase of life.
1. God’s not done with your child…and He’s not done with you.
We see our children the way they are today, 18 and 16-years-old, in my case. And while much about them might be wonderful, they still have a lot of maturing to do. When I think back to how I was at 18, I’m glad I’ve grown up some more since then!
I love the words of Paul in Philippians 1:6. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.“
Not only will God continue to perfect His work in our children, but He will do the same for us as parents. This change in our family situation will give me more opportunities to trust Him and grow my faith – especially since our daughter will be almost 600 miles away.
2. It’s okay to feel sad about the “lasts,” but make time to celebrate the “firsts.”
Process the feelings of sadness. They’re natural and okay. But also have fun buying for and decorating her dorm room (or book bag or school locker). Put together a care package with some of her favorite things and be ready to send it at the first sign of homesickness.
Endings usually lead to new beginnings. One of my favorite verses about the changing seasons of life is Isaiah 42:19. “Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.“
Even when change is hard, there’s always room for God to do a new thing. Let’s look ahead to the good things in store for us and for our child.
3. Remember that God never fails.
Change doesn’t mean that God leaves you or walks away. In fact, sometimes we recognize Him more in the difficult times.
“My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.” ~Psalm 73:26
I remember the season of new motherhood. I had no idea what to do with a baby. Yet through the sleepless nights, high fevers, terrible-two tantrums, middle school drama, and teenage disappointments, God has guided me as a mom to this daughter. He will continue to do so.
Not only will He not fail me, He won’t fail my daughter. I’m excited to think about the lessons she will learn about God’s faithfulness in the coming months.
4. This too shall pass.
My husband and I have said this about several stages in our children’s lives!
At first, I’ll cry when I drive past the Chick-fil-a where she’s worked for the last 2 1/2 years. I already dread walking back into the house after college drop off and seeing her empty bedroom. It won’t ever be the same again, but there will be a new normal.
“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” ~1 Peter 5:10
I might not classify this situation as suffering, but I do know that God can use it to continue to grow us. We’ll learn lessons through this adjustment, and move on to what God has for us next.
5. Other moms are walking this same road.
There’s comfort in shared experiences. I have a number of friends who’ve either just come through this stage, are in the middle of it, or are beginning it just like me. We all experience it differently, as do our kids, based on personalities and expectations. However, it’s reassuring to know that I’m not alone in this.
“Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel.” ~Proverbs 27:9
If any of you have already passed this milestone, I’d love to hear what advice was most helpful to you!