Momservation: The years teach much that the days never knew.
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First, big hug to all the parents who just dropped off their college freshmen.
I know right now it feels as if you had to do self-open heart surgery with no anesthesia. But that still beating piece of your heart you left behind in a dorm room with every surrogate creature comfort of home imaginable from Amazon and Bed, Bath & Beyond…is going to be okay. In fact, likely more than okay. Trust me on this.
Because that was me 3 years ago. Leaving my first-born at Boise State with an 8-hour drive home to try to stop the bleeding. I was successful until I got home where the real hemorrhaging happened. I went Full Golden and it wasn’t pretty, but as soon as I released the flood gates that had been holding back a year’s worth of separation anxiety, I have to admit, I felt better. It took a while for the empty feeling in my heart and home to close up, but inevitably it does. Trust me on this.
I did it again the very next year—dropping another chunk of my heart off at UC Santa Barbara, the baby girl and my last child. In the span of one year we became Empty Nesters, this time with a 6-hour car ride home to process what just happened: Going from being scared as hell at becoming parents, to a 20-year whirlwind commitment of being all in on raising children, to suddenly being decommissioned from active duty, relegated to spectator instead of head coach. It does take some time to get your bearings on your new role. Trust me on this.
What you’re feeling now, parents of college students starting their fall semester (and what you will soon feel parents of students starting their fall quarter), is the agony of success—raising a child to confidently go out into the world eager to make themselves and their community a better place. This ache from the missing piece(s) of your heart is a badge of honor. You did it. They did it. And all you had to sacrifice was your heart. Which does heal. Trust me on this.
My son is now in his senior year of college. Just like their childhood, it passes quicker than shooting star. Over the last four years I’ve watched him go from a wild stallion set loose to the prairie to a responsible young man on the verge of stellar career and a happy future with someone he loves in a place he loves. Exactly what I’ve always wanted for this piece of my heart—for him to be happy. Because once you become parents and have your heart go walking around outside your body, you’re only as happy as your saddest child. Trust me on this.
So hang in there all you parents walking around with an emptiness that feels too heavy to bear and aching for that piece of your heart that is missing. It’s not missing. You know exactly where it is. God willing, it will be healthy, happy and safe out of your care. And will call, text, SnapChat, and share funny Instagram Reels and TikToks frequently.
And that heaviness? Each day it gets lighter as do all things we get used to carrying. Then one day you’ll realize the weight has been lifted because you finally chose to be happy it happened instead of chaining yourself to the sorrow that it’s over. And when that happens, there is tremendous joy in watching that piece of your heart become happier than it could ever be if you had never let it go. Trust me on this.
The best is yet to come. Just ask grandparents. They’ve been telling me to trust them on this for years.
#TrustMeOnThis #CollegeDropOff #EmptyNesting