The Eighteenth Summer

I remember it all like yesterday.  It was such an exciting time for us.  Our only child, our daughter, had graduated from high school with honors and was Valedictorian of her class, and [YEAH!], received a full scholarship to attend U of A.  It was bittersweet knowing she would move away soon, but we celebrated her achievements with joy.

We are planners so we made lists, shopped for dorm accessories, and she worked her summer job to earn some extra money for college.  I guess we thought that summer would last much longer than it did.  It turned out to be very short.

Suddenly it was time to pack [two vehicles] and head to Fayetteville.  We sign up for the early check-in.  Yes it was smart to choose this time, but anyone who knows my husband also knows this was the only option that we dare select!  Not kidding [at all] because he would have preferred it be a 6:00 a.m. check in verses anything later.  

Reality set in quickly, especially when we headed home that afternoon alone and she has [gets] to stay behind for orientation and her first night in Reed Dorm.  She is excited and elated.  My husband holds my hand and tells me she will be alright. We drive away, quietly. But it is okay, right?  She will be home for one last small load of her things on Saturday.

Saturday sped by and then Sunday morning arrives.  And she drives away, alone in her little yellow car with the last needed essentials and clean laundry, and we try to keep it together.  It is hard to explain how difficult this moment in time was for us. If you have sent a son or daughter to college then you understand.

We remind her to call when she gets to her dorm.  We remind her to be careful.  We waive bye as she leaves.  Watching her drive away that Sunday afternoon produced overwhelming reactions of joy, pride, hope, and sadness. We knew she needed to find her place in this world, and we knew this was the necessary first step.  It was a big step, for all of us. 

It was profoundly obvious that time truly does fly by more rapidly than we ever imagined it could.  My husband realized that he needed to work in the tractor barn [he knew I needed a little time to process this, maybe he did too.  I never ask, I just assume. ;)].

In my assessment you can prepare for college, help your child save money for college, plan, shop, and any number of numerous things, but you never prepare yourself for the day she moves away from home.  Even if you think you do, you probably aren’t really ready.

I read a recent article that typically you only have eighteen summers to spend with your children before they leave home…eighteen!  Eighteen in regards to age just somehow seems like more time than using the same number eighteen to represent the number of summers you have to enjoy your children before they grow up.

So, for what it’s worth, here’s my advice  – celebrate the accomplishments and the journey ahead, celebrate big!, but make time to also fit in some fun shopping trips, road trips, dinner at a favorite restaurant, and family time.  Allow time to slow down a little because August is fast approaching.  You will never regret squeezing in the extra time.  Soak it all up and enjoy!

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