It was the day that she had waited patiently for and we, as parents, had dreaded (not really, but time just moves too fast). Now don’t get me wrong, we knew this was part of the deal, we just didn’t realize that it would come so quickly! However, like any good mom, I put on my brave face and began shopping! Everything that she needed (and MORE) was packed into her car and ours like a game of Tetris.
The college experience had officially begun.
Amongst the bins of cleaning products, school supplies, curtains, and command strips (lots of command strips), I secretly packed away a photo album filled with pictures from her childhood and a letter. These words expressed all the things that I wanted to say, but knew I wouldn’t be able to verbalize as we walked out the door, leaving her 122 miles from home. As we unpacked, I placed the note and album in her dresser and hoped that she wouldn’t find it until after we had left. I felt like I had so much to say, but my cracking voice would have done me in.
Here is a portion of the letter and some important reminders that I left for my favorite girl:
- “If you have a problem, please talk to me. I remember how it was to be 18. Nothing will surprise me … promise. Although society may consider you an adult, I promise that you have so much to learn. I have already walked this road. Take your time…
- I have loved you every moment of your life. Even as you prepare to head off to this place called Manhattan, I can’t contain my pride for the young woman you have become. This love and pride comes with no strings attached, but life is not that simple. If there are things you want to achieve, knowledge you want to gain, friends you want to make, it is now entirely up to you, and I know you will do amazing.
- You brim with the confidence that I did not even know existed at 18. You know that you deserve to be respected. You know there is more to finding your joy and setting goals than just being good at something. You know that kindness wins, all the time, and that caring for someone’s soul is just as important as caring for them personally. Let your heart be your guide and listen to that still, small voice inside you.
- These months and years ahead of you will be filled with new and exciting friendships. Some will last a lifetime, and some will be short-lived. Do not be afraid to strike up a conversation with the girl sitting alone eating her lunch. She may be your next best friend.
- On the topic of friends, I am so thankful that you have already found some friends that have outstanding character and friends that will hold you accountable when there are opportunities for poor choices. (As a reminder, these opportunities will pop up every day.) Remember that one poor choice can alter the rest of your life. Sorry, I just had to say it.
- Please go to class. I know that college is not like high school and that most of the time your college professors will not take attendance or even care if you are there. However, this college education is one not to take lightly. It is a financial sacrifice that we feel blessed to be able to provide. I know you are thankful for the opportunity, but when your alarm goes off and you feel too tired to get out of bed, think about the amazing privilege it is to be able at attend this university.
- I should probably also remind you to lock your car doors, do NOT ever leave your cup unattended at a party, do NOT walk alone at night, be aware of your surroundings, put down your phone and take in the moments, be safe and wise, and DO NOT apply for that credit card that the university book store offers you. The “free gift when you apply” is so NOT worth the interest you will be charged for any purchases made on that “I will just pay it later” credit card. Just say no!
It will be different without you around the house everyday. I will miss your singing voice and your dancing skills. (Duh?) I will miss sitting on the edge of your bed talking about your day. I will miss our chats on the way to church and hiding the bags inside the car after our Sunday shopping trips. However, with everything that I will desperately miss about daily life with you, I am so excited for you to experience college. To experience all that God has planned for you, all that He has so carefully prepared for you. Keep your eyes open so that you do not miss a single opportunity. I believe in you more than you could ever imagine.