A few short hours ago, we said our goodbyes to our daughter and then watched her walk toward her next adventure. We hugged, we prayed, we cried. Allow me to be more specific. Amber sweetly had a few tears rolling down her precious freckled cheeks. Josh was able to maintain his composure, and stayed away from any standard of ugly cry. I, on the other hand…Well, I kept myself together (for the most part) until I climbed back into the car to drive away. And that’s when it really began. It was one of those can’t-catch-your-breath sobs. You know, the kind that causes you to make all sorts of strange noises that you can’t possibly control. Do you know what I’m talking about? That was the scene as we left the campus and turned onto Judge Ely Blvd. and headed out of town.
I thought I was ready for this. I thought she was ready for this. Turns out, I was only half right.
I know it’s time for her to venture out, away from home – away from mom, and make her own way in the world. I know this is the normal progression of things, and I’ve had 18 years to prepare for this; but honestly, I don’t know of any way to be ready for this. As she walked away from us to begin her journey, I felt my heart leap out of my chest and go with her. That’s what happens when you have a child. Suddenly, your heart resides outside of you. It takes the form of a tiny baby, an unsteady toddler, a toothless grade schooler, an awkward tween, a full blown teenager, and an emerging adult. So there I stood, watching my woman-child carry my heart away.
So now I do the thing that moms do – I question. Did I prepare her? Does she know how much I love her? Did I leave her with enough toilet paper and toothpaste? Did I do enough? What more could I have done? How can I leave her in a place that serves Pepsi products instead of Coke products?
And then I do the thing where I manage to conjure up every bad parenting moment I’ve ever had. And then I feel guilty for those moments. And then I laugh at the absurdity and normalcy of these mom-thoughts. And that’s when I know, for sure, that I will be ok. I will soon find the beauty and joy in this next phase.
In the midst of my not-readiness, there were a handful of moments when the look in Amber’s eyes gave it away that she didn’t feel ready, either. *PANIC MODE* Oh no!!! she’s not ready! Abort mission! Abort mission! We can’t possibly go through with this!
I CANNOT LEAVE HER HERE!
Turns out, she was just exhausted and a bit overwhelmed. It was nothing a good night’s sleep in her new bed couldn’t cure. *Phew. Disengage panic mode* She is ready. She is ready for some independence. She is ready to dive into the deep end of college classes. She is ready for this challenge. She is strong and bold. She is confident and ambitious. She is brilliant and disciplined. She is gifted and talented. She is capable. She is ready.
Even in my helicopter mom moment of not wanting to let go, I realize that my baby girl is ready for this. We have, indeed, prepared her well. And so I have some peace. But that’s not the whole picture. Another very important part of all this is the school itself.
Abilene Christian University – ACU – GO WILDCATS!
When we visited the campus in March, we were exceedingly impressed. Amber quickly decided this would be her school. *Thank you Jesus* We had no idea that when we came back for orientation and move-in we would continue to be blown-away by this university.
Move-in day. Picture it: We pull up to the school and there is a line extending off campus and down the city street. Hmmm, we weren’t expecting this. The line moves quickly. As we round the corner and come into the dorm parking lot, we see the throngs of upperclassmen we were assured would be there to help us. Are you ready for this? We pulled up to the main entrance of the dorm. We told them Amber’s name and her room number. In five minutes ALL of her stuff (that filled up the Suburban) was out of our car and in her room! AMAZING! We anticipated spending at least an hour hauling things, box by box, from the car to the dorm.
Ummm, I’m sold. Love this place.
But what I really love is the overall focus of the school. Every incoming student takes a test which identifies their strengths – five strengths, actually. Throughout their entire education at ACU, there will be emphasis on developing these strengths. The focus will be on building these students up in the areas where they possess natural ability, rather than on improving areas where they might struggle. The focus shifts from negative to positive. The students not only feel better about their school performance, but they also learn a tremendous amount about what kinds of careers suit them well according to their God-given strengths. BRILLIANT!
LOVE. LOVE. LOVE.
Added bonuses: She has a friend from church in Pensacola who is also a freshman at ACU this year. We have multiple friends in Abilene who will make sure she is taken care of. And of course, she will be in an atmosphere that is saturated with Jesus-loving people!
So…She’s ready. She’s at a fabulous university. She has local contacts. She is in a Christ-centered atmosphere.
OK, I guess I’m ready, too. GO WILDCATS!