Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Day Came...

That last Sunday was a long day. I needed to get my own things together for the flight. But my heart was heavy. I got up early and went to the lobby for breakfast, secretly wishing the hotel clerk would not ask me, "How your daughter doing? She ok?" She did. I answered. I went to every church service I could find that day, meeting up with Firstborn and her two friends at an 11:00 service. Then I took them to lunch. I dropped her back at her dorm and spent the rest of the day, I don't know, doing things. It didn't take me long to get my bags ready. I stopped by the gift shop that has agreed to sell her paintings, just to get a picture of it for her papa. 

I didn't find a night church service, I am sure because of summer schedules and even activities to launch the college kids. So, I slipped into a coffee shop. I figured I could sip a decaf latte in the presence of other patrons, and the tears might not threaten to spill. It didn't work very well. I tried to get on social media, but the sweet comments being posted to me were melting me. I must say here that I did have friends offer to be with me during this time. I didn't take them up on it, because we had a plan already in the works for her to take me to the airport (which she very much wanted to do). I'm not sure what I will do next time. Next time will be in two years. I wonder if it will be easier. My heart is divided in as many pieces as I have family members, so I suppose it will be just as hard the second time. But if they go to the same college, I'll be handing her off to big sis, and that's surely easier. I still sometimes see them as my three little Singapore blondes, riding in the little wagon, swinging their little feet at the bus stop, running outside in the downpours to cool off, sitting in the tub together at 7PM every night before bed. How did it go so fast?

As the day progressed, I forced myself to do what I knew would be hard, but had been a goal to do before I left. I drove through the entire campus and prayed for her in every way I could think of. Protection from evil. Concentration in her classes. Friends. Boys. Decisions for her future. Wisdom. Health. As I pulled out, the sun was setting, so I stopped and took this picture of her dorm. Now that I see the picture, it feels very fitting that it would be the last one I took. It sort of looks like the setting and rising sun. It's hard to tell which. 

I woke the next morning with my heart split in two. One side said, "Let's get home. Hubs and kids waiting." The other side said, "This is it. The goodbye is here." She and her friends drove me to the airport, and I turned the car over to her. We held it together until the check in agent said, "That yo' baby?" 

I have to post both pictures, because it is so us to realize the first one we took looked bad of both of us. We took another, then added filters. It's so us; we don't even make excuses to each other. Yes, take another. 

I have zero regrets. Yes, there are times I could have been a better mom, but God has been gracious to me. He alone has produced a daughter who is striving after Him. She's ready for this, and it was time to say goodbye. 

I walked through security and to my gate, flying alone for the first time in my life, believe it or not. I was glad for the new MC sweatshirt I bought. I felt cold in the airport. For some reason, the sweatshirt provided warmth in many ways. 

The eclipse from the air simply made the sky look dim during the middle of the day. I did poke a hole in a coffee cup and watch the sun become a crescent on my napkin. 

And I took this picture for Sweet Cheeks. I knew she'd like to see the clouds that looked like an eager puppy. 

In Houston, I felt like I had cement in my shoes, but I did get on the plane. Thankfully, an empty row around me afforded me some much needed sleep on my long flight. I also met a believer on my final leg and that was a special encouragement to me. I can now say I launched one kid! 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Holding Pattern

CC asked me to schedule my departure from the USA, not the morning after move in day. He thought I should stay and go to church with her, take her to lunch, then fly out on Monday morning. After her move in the morning, there was a convocation which was wonderful. It was just the right amount of humor and reflection to help the parents feel that it was time for this big step. 

The upperclassmen came and surrounded the class of 2021 and prayed first for the parents, then the students. 

And after that, most parents left (they handed us a pack of tissues as we exited the church!). I still had 36 hours to go before my flight. I had been teasing Firstborn that I would just wear my ball camp and MC t-shirt and pose as a transfer student, tagging along behind her. Of course, I didn't. But I did slip in the back of the gym for the big sports team launch. 

And I texted her this picture that I was making a new friend. 

The football team had a scrimmage. Part way through that night, I felt it was time for me to go. I was sitting alone (she would have stayed with me, but I felt it was very important in those first few hours that she make friends and start to hang with folks there). And I felt, very, very alone. I realize that I am not the first parent to ever drop a first kid off at college. And I have had many, many folks send me notes that they understand how I'm feeling. But I simply can't put into words what it's like for me. I am 100% confident that she is in God's hands. I'm not worried about her health or safety. She has the Creator of the Universe holding her. And I'm not really a worrier anyway. I'm not worried about her determination to walk with the Lord. She's established and simply could not function without the Lord at this point in her life. So, here it is. I just miss her. I miss her 6000 miles. It's a transatlantic missing her. As I have processed all of this in my mind, I think the conclusion I came to, which helped me the most is this....this is a new sacrifice that has never been required of me. Having my 5 kids here with me has made it easier to be "here." And slowly those supporting blocks which have always eased the burden will be removed. So, that's it. When I finally pieced that together in my mind, that "sacrifice" conclusion helped me voice what has been on my heart. I want absolutely no burden on her shoulders for this. I am determined that the weight I am bearing will not be transferred to her heart, as she is doing exactly what she is supposed to be doing. I want to do for her what I would want done for me (when I leave each year), which is a positive outlook, a focus on the positives, and not the heavy guilt and emotion that change nothing but just make it harder. 

So, I left the game and went to Big Lots before it closed. I wanted to buy her a basket for her room and few more things for a big care package before I left. Somehow it felt like the right thing to do. 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Move In Day

Move in day at MC runs like a dream. We were told to pull in at 8AM. We were there at 7:45 and there were 75 cars lined up! Soon, the line was moving, we pulled up to her dorm, and upperclassmen unloaded us. We never even left the car! 

It was extremely efficient and organized.

We parked and began setting up her room. Big furniture placement came first. 

CC was really longing to be there that day. He wore his MC t-shirt all day in Turkey! He texted me questions like, "What's the view out her window?" I did my best to answer him. 

In all honesty, she didn't need much help from me. But I loved being there. I put together her closet and desk drawers. Her room was looking more and more like Turkey! 

Her roommate is a sweet girl from Mississippi. She also began finding her other connections, including this senior from our home church in Memphis. 

And I found an old friend too! I haven't seen Shelby since high school graduation day, but we found each other that day and hugged and laughed about our yearbook camp experience! 

She texted me this picture this week, as I wanted her to send one with the rug included. Her rug was a graduation present. We also ran together to Walmart just before I left to buy a piece of fabric for her wall, feeling like the color would warm up the white wall and complement her rug. Her sister told her on FaceTime, "If this were on Pinterest, I'd tag it!" "Really?!" she replied. That's a compliment! I just want it to feel like home and represent her. And I think it does. 

This time was busy and exciting, an easy avenue to avoid the thought of walking away from her in a matter of a day and a half. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Movin' To MC

We rolled into Clinton, MS, to prepare for move in day. We had a couple of days to do the things we needed to do. Because we just drove one small car, we needed to buy several things there in the town. We spent our time getting her registered at the health clinic, paying her first semester bill, getting her parking decal, and other things to get her all set up.

This is her dorm. 

It was so exciting to me to see her campus! 

The School of Nursing

I really missed CC and my other 4 kids. My friends texted me some pictures of an outing they had with friends! 

We kept our time light and fun, even though we both were saying each day, "It's going to be hard to say goodbye." 

And finally the night before move in day came. We got in the car one last time, crammed to the ceiling (after we had unpacked her and I had ironed all her clothes and put them on hangers). We could not stop laughing at how ridiculous we had looked for an entire week, everywhere we went! 

We curled up in bed one last time. She said, "Mommy, this is our last sleepover night." And then she hugged me. I'll never forget that. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Orange Adventure, Part 2

I woke up earlier than Firstborn and caught this beautiful sunrise. 

While we were there, she began to get emails about her upcoming courses. This was an email about Chemistry. We ordered her book right then and there. 

Another blessing we had down at Orange Beach is that Firstborn got up the courage to inquire in a gift shop if they would be willing to sell her art on consignment. They said YES! I was immensely proud of her. It's a hobby for her, but she is very good. I'm glad she found a way to start making a little income with something she loves to do. 

Here are some of the things she painted while we were down there on a rainy afternoon. 

Orange Adventure, Part 1

Back in the Spring, it was a very low time for me. In a matter of a few days, I had several "heartaches," which I am sure I have shared on this blog. I knew my dear friend would be leaving Turkey,  and I was facing a goodbye that is, honestly, all the more difficult overseas when friends are like sisters. She'd been my sister for 10 years. That same week our sweet kitty was hit by a car. You know how God infused some joy into our family after that. A new kitty! Who was pregnant! During this same time, life began to speed up, and the reality of sending our first child to college was becoming all the more real. So, during that time, I planned a little 3-day trip to Orange Beach, Alabama, for Firstborn and me during our week before her college move-in day. Even the planning was a bright spot during a hard time.

We returned from Virginia, packed the car up, and headed out. We had a good time together as we rolled down the highway. At one point, we saw some roadkill. Firstborn wondered if it might be a monkey. The first of many adjustments to the USA!

We got there in time to catch a few rays on the beach. And we quickly realized that in all our "college packing," we weren't really beach-ready! That night we shared a plate of delicious fish, then went to a CVS across the street to buy some summer clearance beach chairs and towels! The weather had been showing thunderstorms for days. The Lord was so gracious, and we enjoyed sunny skies each day. 

I really had fun taking Firstborn out for coastal food. She'd really never had crab, oysters, and boiled shrimp from the coast. 

She loved it! After we went to Doc's Seafood Shack, we ended up there the next night as well! 

We had no real agenda. For me, it was a wonderful buffer between summer and her college launch. We enjoyed the beach, spotted dolphins each morning, ate seafood each night, and began to talk about college! We even spotted a rainbow! I held myself together, though I was keenly aware that we were on the clock. One night, I saw a man walking with his 3 small girls, all dressed alike. I told him that I had 3 little girls and that I always dressed them alike when they were little. I could see them all in my mind on the beach of Malaysia. I then laughed and said, "But then I had one more girl, and a surprise boy!" He laughed and thanked me for the warning. The warning wasn't for the extra kids; it's how fast they are going to grow. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017


I never attended my Papa's funeral. I was just four, so I stayed home with someone who took care of me. I really appreciated seeing these tombstones before we left.

My Granny, who my youngest daughter is named for, went to heaven just after Big Ben was born. I wanted to come, but was unable to due to the distance, timing, and a new baby. Firstborn quickly assembled a little bouquet of a Virginia wildflower to place there.

I was also unable to come to my Aunt Ethel's funeral and burial. It was our first year in Singapore, and I couldn't make it in time. She was adopted by my great grandparents from the local orphanage and was a big sis to my mom. She was even more special than an aunt to me, as she was my nanny while my mom went back to teaching. I slept with her every night when I lived in Indiana. She loved me like her own. 

I haven't seen Granny's or Aunt Ethel's burial places ever. For some reason, just facing the launch of my own little girl, seeing these provided some closure for me in my own childhood. We will see them again, hallelujah. I've found the one faith where that is never in question.

The entire trip was so very good. I'm glad we did it!

It was time to head home. Time to pack the car for college. Time to say goodbye to summer. Time to head to the beach for a few days, one last girl trip, then on to the college town!

Site Meter