I remember letting go of her when she took her first steps – she, bold and purposeful and me, tentative and worried, painfully aware that this walking thing was only the beginning. Then there was the first day of school – she, eager and excited and me, a bit misty eyed because I didn’t want her to leave me, yet knowing she had to in order to grow. I remember the first time she rode her bike without training wheels, because she was a big girl and didn’t need the wheels anymore. And then the first time we let her drive to school on her own – and Joe and I praying that identical plea that God would deliver her safely home. I remember how proud we were when she got into her first choice for college and then made the Texas State Strutters dance team. I remember taking her to college and moving her into her dorm and hugging her goodbye because it was time for her to grow some more. And I cried, not just from sadness, but from the joy of seeing her flying proudly on her own.
Letting go of my daughter Presley has always been so difficult, and never more so than seeing her off to college. I guess I had never realized how much Motherhood had defined me. Suddenly, no more homework to supervise, or dance competitions, or carpools. No more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or sleepovers. No more science projects or proms.
What on earth would Joe and I do with ourselves?
At first, it pained me to even walk by her room. I imagined the pitter patter of her little feet and visualized her dancing in front of her mirror. Then on one particularly difficult day, I wandered in and lay on her bed, the smell of her still present on her blanket and pillow, and I cried for a long time. Eventually, our dog Baxter found me in her room and jumped up on the bed and licked away my tears. In his own little way he was telling me it would be okay.
Thus began another first for Joe and me – our first years as empty nesters. The house is a bit quieter these days, yet our lives are anything but empty as we’ve begun tackling projects around the house and new work demands. Joe and I have embraced this next chapter in our lives and we’re having a blast with our role as college parents, flying down whenever we can to Texas State to watch the Strutters perform at football games.
Presley is thriving in college but every time we leave her to come home to Colorado, I remind her of “the list” – the same ten things I’ve told her over and over again for years, and to which she’s always responded, Got it, Mom:
- Always lock your doors first – those in your car, and your doors at home.
- Pay attention and be aware of your surroundings, whether at home, out shopping, at school or at parties.
- Love and respect yourself. Recognize and celebrate your strengths and positive qualities. Don’t dwell on the negative.
- Manners always matter. You can never thank people enough! You can never be too kind!
- Always have a game plan and a backup plan. If you fall, get back up and try again. Life’s greatest lessons come to us in the most difficult moments. God is with you.
- A good attitude can take you places and make life much more enjoyable. You have two choices every day when you wake up: to have a good day or a bad day. Your call.
- Find your passion; live it and work it.
- The more colors you eat, the more vitamins you get! Stay active and nourish your spirit.
- Serve others with your gifts and talents – you have so many! Peter 1, 4:10 – “Remember you have much to be grateful for and be there to lift those up that need a hand.”
- Speak up for yourself. Do not shy away from being the lead dog – you have it in you to lead. Choose your friends carefully and make them those who strengthen your character and values.
Take the Lead with your thoughts – they become your words
Take the Lead with Your words – they become your actions
Take the Lead with your actions – they become your habits
Take the Lead with your habits – they become your character
Presley will be celebrating her 20th birthday this weekend and it will be her first birthday without her Mom and Dad. And so we want to say we love you, Presley, and we’re so very proud of you! Happy Birthday!