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Off To College: You Only Have Them For a Little While

When you become a parent it seems like time is going to creep by as you wait for your child to hit those milestones like making their first sound, taking their first steps, and speaking their first words. I never truly understood “it goes by in the blink of an eye” until very recently. Don’t get me wrong, I knew time was flying when my son graduated high school and it seemed like it was just two days before I was toting him around on my hip.

One week ago, today, I flew up to Missouri to get my son settled in to start his first semester at Missouri State University. While it was exciting seeing him reach this milestone in life, I couldn’t help but be weary. How was I going to help him if he needed me now that he was going to be 12 hours away. What if there is an emergency and he needs mom or dad. How is he going to figure out how to live on his own? What am I going to do when something exciting happens and I am not there to celebrate with him?

So far, for the last 19 years, he has been near me. Maybe not every day or every moment but most of the time, he was where I could get to him in a fairly quick time frame. He was at home, where I could hear his voice when he was singing, playing a game online, or just yelling at the TV when someone made a silly mistake in the soccer match he was watching. He was able to jump in the car with me and run errands or have a mom/son lunch date whenever my crazy school schedule allowed. I guess, even though it wasn’t a realization at the time, I took comfort in knowing my child (and subsequently his younger siblings) were always right here for me to see and know they are okay or to step in and intervene when needed.

As my husband and I drove (okay he drove, I reclined in the passenger seat) the 12-hour drive home, it hit me…my child will not be living in my home. He is doing this thing called life that we raised him to do, prepared him for, and hoped he would do. What I was not prepared for was how my heart broke as we drove away, how even though I am so beyond proud of him, I had a hard time with the fact I couldn’t hug him when I wanted to, or sit and watch a soccer or football game with him on Saturdays. Then I realized, the past 19 years truly went by in the blink of an eye.

We prepare our children to grow up, go to college and eventually have their own family, but I don’t think we ever truly prepare ourselves, as parents, for that moment when they go out on their own. It’s such a bittersweet thing, this watching him (and his siblings) grow up. I’m so excited for his journey but selfishly sad I don’t have him around me. I look back and wish there had been more hours put into each day so I could have had more time with him for the past 19 years. I spent so much time with him, watching him play soccer, making memories but now it seems like it just wasn’t enough, I wasn’t given the super-power to add more hours to my day, unfortunately.

We raise our kids to go out into the world, but darnit all to heck, we don’t prepare ourselves for the onslaught of emotions when we leave them and the feeling of wanting to grab them and bring them right back home the minute we leave them. All we can do is take solace in knowing we raised wonderful children and pray every prayer under the sun and throw our hands up in surrender. Hope beyond everything that we imparted enough wisdom and knowledge into them that will carry them through the moments we are not able to be there as they do this thing called adulthood.

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When they say we only have our children for a little bit of time, they aren’t lying. 18 (or in our case 19) years seems like it will take forever to pass by, but it really does go by in the blink of an eye. So parents, hug your children a little extra each day and make as many memories with them as you can. Because one day, those times you get to do those things will get few and far between. Whatever you can put off, put off and spend that moment with your children. And when they go off on their own, know that you will be sad but you will be oh so proud at the same time.

A little piece of my heart is missing because, for now, it resides in Missouri. It’s a piece of my heart that will come and go as my son comes and goes, because it will stay with him. To my “little” buddy, I am so beyond proud of you and will be your biggest cheerleader as you keep on this journey called life. I am counting down the days until we see you at Thanksgiving!

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Toni is a professional lifestyle blogger living on the sunny Florida Gulf Coast. She has a passion for Disney, Travel, Fashion, Cooking, Tech, Family Fun Ideas, Reviews, Giveaways and loves being able to share that with her readers!

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