Off to College, Transitions, Life Changes, Parenting, School Starting,

“It will be one of those days you will remember forever.” My aunts words were spoken to me with sincerity and the reflection of her experience over twenty years earlier, as she dropped off her oldest son at college.  With the emotions that were already enveloping me, I knew her words would be accurate.  Part of me wished they weren’t.  Part of me wished this experience would be an easy one, one that would go by without any real tears of sadness.  But without the tears of sadness,  I suppose that could mean that I didn’t mind letting go of this part of our lives.  And to be honest, part of me, a big part of me, does mind letting go.

Life is about letting go, isn’t it?  It’s about letting go of a part of your experiences, of your family’s experiences, ones held so close, ones that seem to have slipped away much to quickly.  It’s about doing the very best you can as a parent, realizing you have been far from perfect, but praying that your love for your child has covered most of your mistakes.

As you read this today, I am three hours away from my home, a little country town in the thumb of Michigan; the area that my husband and I have proudly chosen to raise our children.  As you read, we are in an Orientation program at a wonderful college that my son has chosen to attend.  I’m imagining myself in a program sitting attentively and yet having my mind wander as I prepare to say good-bye to my son and leave him at his new home on this college campus.

I am replaying in my mind the mental pictures I have taken the last few weeks as I’ve watched him take extra care in spending special moments with each of his four younger brothers.  The trips outside to shoot some hoops.  The wrestling on the living room floor.  The watching of cartoons that he watches only for the enjoyment his little brothers gain from having him near them.  The teasing as he attempts to persuade one to give him a hug.  And the joy as he heads to work and the youngest runs down the hall yelling after him, “Hug!  Hug!  Hug!”  Watching his 6’3’’ body reach down and effortlessly scoop up the little 20-pound body as they embrace and quickly kiss each other on the cheek. 

Those are difficult times to let go, yet without change, without letting go of parts of our lives, there would be no growth, no room for new experiences.   Ecclesiastes 3:1says, “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven.”   There have been wonderful seasons in our lives.  And yet, the story isn’t over!  We must turn the page and prepare to begin a new chapter.  Yes, one of uncertainty.  One of unknown challenges.  But also one of new experiences.  One of new friendships.  One of new growth.    

It seems that as parents, we spend lots of time slowly closing chapters of our children’s lives.  We close a chapter when take them to the bus to go to kindergarten that first day.   We close a chapter when we help them through the nervousness of their first date.  We close a chapter when we watch them go down that graduation aisle.  And we close a chapter as we leave them at college.  Yet in closing all of those chapters, we are allowing a new season to burst into bloom!  It’s fun to leaf back in the pages, reminisce about the older chapters, laugh about them, but we must always be ready to start the new chapter, even if the earlier chapters seem too precious to end, even as uncertain as the new ones may seem; more of the book is to be written.

Now, I am preparing to say my good bye.  I am preparing to close up the chapters of the past eighteen years, opening them every so often for the great memories, but closing them again, making room for the new chapters.  Will it be easy?  You can bet it won’t be.  You can be sure that I have tears in my eyes right now as I think about this, but I want to share with you a promise that I hold on to during these times of change.  A promise that I hope will comfort you as you go through whatever change is happening in your life today.   Matthew 28:20, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  I have a Heavenly Father who not only promises He will be with me through this process, but more importantly to me as a mom right now, He is promising me He will there for my son, even when I’m not able. 

So as I drive away from that college parking lot, as you leave your child at the elementary school, or as you close whatever chapter of your life is ending this summer, we can both be assured that there is someone much more able than ourselves holding our babies.  One who loves them even more than we do.  One who is holding their hands tightly, walking them into the next chapter.   Thank you God for reassuring me that you are taking care of our little ones, even the little ones who have grown much bigger than us now!  And God, when we’re not able, please give our children an extra big hug every so often from mom and dad.

Author Misty Cramer. This piece was first published in the Bay City Times, when Misty's oldest son was being taken to college...many years ago. 

If you would like to receive notice when Misty posts a blog, you can subscribe to her website, https://mailchi.mp/7844a4ba7f8b/welcome and follow her on Instagram @mistydawncramer and Facebook, Misty Cramer, Author & Speaker. She would love to connect with you!  

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