My husband and I went with our oldest child to college orientation this week. I sat there wondering what the heck a young woman like me was doing with a college-aged child. They talked a lot about transitions, college life, opportunities available, course offerings, and tuition. Of course they talked about tuition.
My son is a rather laid back sort, and we are not entirely sure he’s grasping all he’s about to step into. I did take comfort as I looked around the large room at other parents and kids and could see I was not alone. It helps to know you are not alone in your boat, especially if the boat has a leak or two. I actually had to fight back a tear a few times. And it had nothing to do with tuition payment.
As we dismissed for lunch the first day and exited to go find the cafeteria, I heard someone call my name. Odd. I didn’t expect to see anyone I knew. I turned to see a friend from years ago standing there. As confusion morphed into recognition my mouth fell open at seeing her there. Then I realized she must be there at orientation with her daughter whom I had not seen since she was four.
I guess I expected to see a little four-year-old girl standing there, but when I turned and saw her, I was forced to realize that she, too, had grown up just like my son had. A beautiful young lady stood before me now, hoping against hope (I am sure) that this strange lady wouldn’t make a big deal over her. Oh well. Couldn’t help myself. She had been too little to remember how our families had become close, and had even taken a vacation together years ago. Like so often happens, when our family moved away, over time we just lost touch.
Seeing both of our kids, all “grown up” and preparing for college was both an exciting and sobering experience. We talked over lunch about our families and tried to squeeze twelve years into thirty minutes. We shared about our other children (each of us had added one or two to our families) and it was good to hear that we had all faired pretty well.
As first time college parents, we could easily fall into a full on panic. Did we teach our kids all they needed to know? Do they fully appreciate what they are about to do? Will they always make good decisions? Do they understand how much money all this involves? The answer to each of these questions is likely a resounding, NO.
The truth is, when I was their age I wasn’t fully prepared either. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. College was four of the hardest and best years of my life. And honestly, had I known just how hard they were going to be, I probably would not have even started them. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.
I grew up so much during my college years. Made my share of mistakes. (None of which I plan on sharing here.) I am sure my son will have his share of struggles, but I know that the Lord will go before him, and will be his rear guard. I’m counting on that in the days ahead.
My most fervent prayer is that he stays on the path the Lord has for him.
I bought a cheesy college parent t-shirt in the school bookstore yesterday at the end of orientation. They were five bucks, and I’m all in on this one…
My son’s gonna have to learn to fly solo some now, but I’ll always be here for him… wearing my t-shirt and cheering him on.