Susan and I took Justin out to Lubbock, Texas (about 6 hours from home), on Tuesday of this week to help him get moved into his dorm room at Lubbock Christian University and get ready for his first day of classes on Monday. He will be a freshman, majoring in Agricultural Business.
This is our first and last experience at sending a child off to college. Quite a lot to take in all at once. There is the excitement and anticipation of watching Justin blossom as he becomes an independent young man and experiences all that the college years have to offer. There is the deep sense of pride that wells up inside me because of the character and integrity that define who he is. There is the nervous anxiety that accompanies his uncertainty of this brand new chapter in his life.
There is also the realization that he is going to be just fine, that he is “up to” the challenges that lie ahead, that he is about to spread his wings and absolutely soar into a bright and wonderful future! As Susan put it on the long drive home, “I’ll be OK as long as I know he’s OK.”
The “empty nest syndrome” doesn’t really bother me. Susan and I will adjust to coming home to just the two of us. We will settle into new routines, learn how to prepare supper for two people, and find new ways to fill our time. We will probably even get used to the quietness that results when a busy teenage boy is no longer in the house. It will be different, but we will make it.
The six hours driving distance doesn’t really bother me. Sure, that’s a long way for Justin to drive home to see us for the weekend. It’s a long drive for us to go see him in Lubbock. But it’s quite doable. Case in point: We left Lubbock about 9:00 PM on Wednesday after Parent Orientation and drove all the way home, pulling into our driveway about 3:00 AM. Susan and I both got up and went to work that morning (this morning), and made it through the day just fine. So I don’t anticipate the six hour drive being that big a deal.
It’s not like we will never see Justin or talk to him just because he’s off in college now, either. Susan will probably talk to Justin every day! (At least for a while.) I’ll talk to him on a regular basis as well. We will exchange e-mails and text messages. (Yes, I actually know how to text message, thank you very much!) We will keep up with what he is doing, how his grades are, who he has made friends with, where he is going to church. I anticipate that we will still be very connected to him on a daily basis. It will be different, asking all those questions about his day over the phone instead of sitting in his room, but we’ll still be connected.
Here’s what gets me emotional about this whole process. My son turned 19 today. He is now in college and will be taking care of most of his day-to-day challenges himself. To a large degree, he doesn’t need me any more. I get choked up just writing those words.
I’m not naive enough to think that he won’t still be calling me for money. I know that there will still be times when he will call to ask my advice or to ask a computer question. He will still rely on Susan to wash his clothes when he comes home to visit. But for the most part, he is quickly moving into that stage that every teenager longs for, and that every parent reluctantly gives in to — independence.
That’s not a bad thing. In fact it has actually been our goal all along, to prepare him for the day that he will be the undisputed captain of his own ship; the day that he will completely take the reins and guide his own path through life; the day that he no longer needs us. That journey has begun. I am proud that he is the kind of young man who will succeed greatly in life. It brings a certain sense of satisfaction to know that we have done our job in preparing him for this time in his life.
But it also makes me a bit sad to know that my little boy is no longer little, and that he no longer needs his Daddy like he once did.
But I’ll be OK. I promise.