Who knew a laundry load of towels and sheets could ambush you like that? It’s been things like that today. Little things that put me on the floor in a puddle. Cleaning the bathroom and noticing her towel is no longer on the hook. Turning around while packing and seeing the preschool picture on the shelf, tentative smile and leopard dress her sister made for her.
In two hours we pack the van. She is ready. I so am not.
Those were my words last Thursday. And now it’s done—the baby is off, packed into her dorm room (on a day where the heat index read 114 degrees), happily organizing her new life. While I organize mine.
|Borrowed van. Because you know what?
An entire life will not fit in a Prius.
There is plenty to do. I will never be one of those who wonders what to do with my time. I know there are new adventures to find and old ones to give my full attention to. I know God has a new chapter for me as well as for her, and I am ready for it.
Yet there are last words to say, and things I want her to know. I’m not going to take this space to lament the passing of time or the loss of a smile and someone who speaks simultaneously the same thought.
Although, I will definitely miss her uncanny facial expressions that can always light any situation. But you know, the child is texting me as I write this, so it’s not like she’s in Siberia or anything. There is that. At least that.
With all the “you can succeed at anything,” “you are awesome,” and “there are no limits to your adventure” talk our kids have been getting as they head into college, I want to add something. Something I don’t think they hear as much, Something I think they may need to hear more. So here, dear Child #3, is what I want you to know as you begin this, indeed, limitless adventure.
You will fail.
When you took that Buzzfeed quiz about “What place in the family are you?” and you got “the perfect one”? Please don’t believe that’s got to be you.
You will fail. You will make mistakes and have regrets. You will disappoint yourself and others. There will be tears. There will be days when you feel your entire identity is tied up in whether or not you get the grade, make the team, or impress the instructor/choir director/interviewer.
And you won’t.
|Did you think I was kidding?|
Because part of this new adult thing you’re trying to get used to is that the cushion is gone and stuff happens that lands you on your butt. Hard. I’m not there to catch you, and the tough truth is, if I was, I should not, and I hope, would not. You never know with mommas.
Is this depressing advice on your first week when everything looks so rosy happy? I hope not. I hope it’s encouraging, really. See, I know somewhere, in the back of your excited, anticipating, expanding mind, there is fear.
I know it. I am your momma.
Fear that this is going to be harder than anything you’ve done before. Fear that you’re standing on a tiny outcrop of stone, and it’s a long, long way down if you misstep and there is no net below. It’s all on you now. Scary.
|Please do this at school. You will make
friends. I guarantee it.
So know now that it’s OK to take that misstep. You will fall. But it will not be the end. It will not be disaster. You will have the courage and the resourcefulness to learn from it and make other choices, and new mistakes, next time. You will stand taller after you fall, not smaller. You will have looked fear in the eye and defeated it.
We will still love you. Your community will still love you. Your roommate will still love you. (Just don’t wipe her computer like you did your sister’s. That may tax her love a bit.)
You will still be of infinite value, because your value depends on things other than your output, GPA, or face in the mirror. Eternal things. Things that don’t change like the day’s classes.
You will fail. But it will not define you.
Falling will not be the end. It will be the beginning of discovering for yourself that you have wings. And God is holding you up on his wings. So fly, kid.