By: L.A. Kohl
Aug 13, 2006
(published in the Aug. 16, 2006 edition of "The Bull's Eye")
Well, we did it. It wasn’t easy, and it may take months (or years) to make all the adjustments, but on August 12, we took our oldest child to college.
I’ve been giving myself “pep talks” all summer long, trying to prepare for it. When she left this summer to spend six weeks working at an orphanage in Guatemala, I kept telling myself, “It’s okay – you’ve still got six more children here at home.”
That argument didn’t work very well. Saying that there were still six more at home was kind of like cutting off a thumb and saying, “It’s okay, I’ve still got nine more fingers.”
So as I tried to prepare myself for this college phase of life, I gave myself some different pep talks. Things like, “It’s okay – it’s a great school with lots of like-minded teachers and students.” Or this one, “She’s got a great ‘head on her shoulders’, and she’s excited and ready for this.”
But it still didn’t work. She might have been ready, but even after all my pep talks to self, I don’t think I was ready.
Each child is such a unique and irreplaceable part of a whole. And no matter how many of us there are, there is now a hole in our whole that we call the Kohl family. No matter how big or little your “whole” family may be, you know that when even just one is missing, there’s a hole that no one or nothing else can replace.
And yet, amidst my sorrow of watching that first one leave the nest, I find myself experiencing moments when I feel a sense of joy and anticipation. When I think of it realistically, I know I would not want her to stay home indefinitely – to always feel obligated to be a part of our home. I’m looking forward to getting to know the new friends she’ll make at college, seeing her explore her options as far as college classes and activities are concerned, and yes – watching her get swept off her feet someday by a young man that will treasure her even more than we do. (If I said that last part to her face, she’d blush and say, “Oh, MOooom!” But moms just can’t help it, can we? We all want a “happily-ever-after” for our special little princess.)
Thus, I have to pick myself up out of my first-one-left-the-nest melancholy, and try to look forward to many new phases and experiences that the future will bring.
Isn’t that what we all have to do at different times in life? Getting through all the various aspects and chapters of life, enjoying each and every moment as much as possible, but not trying to hold on to those moments for too long and too tightly? Instead, we must look forward to the moments that are yet to come.
“…but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.” Philippians 3:13b