JUST THINKING: Into the big, wide open …

Just Thinking | Julie Stafford

My oldest daughter and I just started visiting college campuses. Her list of desired schools isn’t long. In fact, there are only three she wants to tour.

But already I’m in mourning.

Crazy, I know, because I still have a good 11 or 12 months with her under my roof. But it feels like time is going to fly.

Take, for example, those afternoons I spent lying on the floor with her as a baby, watching how fascinated she was with her toes, worrying already about all the things that could happen to her when she eventually learned to drive. Seems like just yesterday.

It’s not that I’m wishing away the time. It’s just that I get easily overwhelmed with the realization that my amazing kids — whom I adore — will one day grow up, and go to college, and find jobs and live their own lives. The fact of the matter is, during the next year, one of my chicks will be gearing up to leave the nest. And I know it’s going to be hard.

During the past couple of weeks, I’ve watched a friend organize, sort and pack all those things her daughter will need for a freshman dorm room. Amidst all the detail involving comforters and bathrobes and goodness knows what else, I know there have been attempts to cram in all those last minute life lessons you want to make sure your child understands.

Already I’m ticking through my list of need-to-knows, wondering what I may have forgotten. Hoping it’s not too big.

This next year will be filled with challenges for my daughter — exciting but stressful too. She’ll be making decisions about her future that will affect the direction her life will take. I’m soaking in every minute, but acutely aware of all those things I’m going to miss on a daily basis — her funky fashion advice, her obnoxious laugh, the way she sets me straight when I’m off base. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t already worried about all those things that can happen when a girl goes to college. But she made it through her first year of driving and I have to have faith that it will be OK.

At the moment, my heart goes out to all those moms who are sending their kids to college or the army or new jobs far away. As much as I try to slow time so that I don’t have to walk in their shoes too soon, I also know that when baby chicks leave the nest they learn how to fly into a great big blue sky.

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