college life

The Last Dance

Our youngest graduates from college in three weeks. That’s 21 days. Approximately 504 hours. I am blown away by this impending milestone. It’s so cliche to say that these past four years went by so fast, but wow. I feel like we stepped into a time tunnel and warped our way to this point. I can see all of our experiences from this period in our lives—the parents’ weekends, football games, fraternity events, semester abroad, dorm life, spring breaks, internships, honors classes, baseball games, fun runs—along the walls of this weird time continuum funnel so I know I WAS THERE. And yet, it’s also a blur, one year blending into the next.

Because you see, this is our final parenting hurrah. Not that he’s needed much parenting lately…he is most definitely ready for adulthood. Last weekend we looked at apartments for his post-graduate move in August. We talked about amenities he’d like to have, proximity to his job, the perks of walkability to restaurants and shopping. I provided my opinion and suggestions but I am fully aware that I will not be making this choice for him. In the past, his father and I were funding all of his housing, so of course, we were heavily involved in the final decision. But for this move, it’s his call, and he is ready and able to make it.

On May 11, I think my husband and I will turn to each other tearfully and whisper- “we did it!” Our fourth chick has successfully completed higher education and is flying from the nest. It will be an emotional day; I am honored that God gave me the responsibility to raise, nurture and teach these amazing people when He made me their Mom. And I know, I’m still Mom. We’re in a different phase now—with Dad and I giving advice on taxes, career changes, breast feeding and meal planning for a growing family. However, that ultimate responsibility…when you are the final word on what’s best for your child, that time is over.

Last weekend, James’ fraternity hosted their mothers in Ft. Worth. One of the events was an hour of country dance lessons at Billy Bob’s. There’s always lots of laughter, some lips bitten in concentration, and a few injured toes. We had so much fun and as we took to the floor for the Cotton-eyed Joe, I felt it was a metaphor for my role as Mom. The last dance of the night, a few steps back, shuffling forward, hand in hand, but easily and more confidently with each step. And when the music speeds up, it’s just like time…moving faster and faster…so all you can do is laugh and try to keep up. 💓

Oh, the places you'll go!

We all know and love the Dr. Seuss classic with that title. The book usually appears on a prominent table at a bookstore near the end of the school year because it is a popular gift for graduates. Our home has two or three copies floating around that were given on such an occasion.

But maybe the giver should have explained to our son, James, that Dr. Seuss' immortal push

“You're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So... get on your way!”

was not an immediate call to action! As I write this blog, our youngest child is strolling the beaches of Barcelona and sampling paella. Last weekend, he soaked his tired feet in the natural hot springs of Budapest. And the week prior, he logged 15 miles in one day exploring the streets of Rome. James is taking his semester abroad very seriously...

All kidding aside, we are thrilled that he is having the experiences of a lifetime. Of course, it was not easy for Momma to let him go halfway around the world. It's a scary thing for me (as you can see by my not-so-excited face in the first image.) Thankfully, technology allows us to stay in touch to ease my fears and he has been very communicative. Also, TCU sent 35 students to the Rome program so he is not alone; his week days feel much like his time on campus in Ft. Worth...with the exception that he walks past centuries old monuments and on ancient streets to get to class!

Being his mother's son, he loves to eat good food and guess what? He writes. If you would like to read some of the musings from his trip, check out his blog. His photography skills exceed any in the family and his voice is young but detailed. Our family is really enjoying keeping up with his travels in this way. 

His father and I truly feel an immense amount of joy that we can send him on this journey. From our meager beginnings in a little apartment to having a son in Europe for 4 months is a huge leap and we are humbled by God's blessings.

The IKEA Milestone

There are many different phases in the development of children from baby (completely dependent) to adult (hopefully independent). And as they near closer to that jumping off point into self-reliance, I think the benchmarks sometimes transition to becoming our own milestones.

Case in point, this past month my husband and I loaded up a rental truck and headed to Ft. Worth to transfer our college junior into a rental home that he is sharing with 5 other TCU students. I remember making this same trip six years ago with our daughter as she moved into a house two blocks from campus with 3 other girls. (Incidentally, all 4 housemates of “Casa Wabasha” are now MARRIED! How did that happen? Where did the time go?) And then, as in this summer, we moved a bed and several lovely boxes purchased from that mega-store, IKEA.

Sidebar: What is it with millennials and IKEA? I recently viewed a pre-showing of Reese Witherspoon’s new movie “Home Again” and one young man, in an attempt at seduction, offered to construct something from IKEA. Lol.

Back to the subject at hand…three boxes, three hours and three people to put together a six-drawer dresser for my son’s room! I am not exaggerating. When we finished, my son was thrilled. His room was complete and represents a safe, solitary haven to escape to from the stresses of upper level courses, internship applications and an ex-girlfriend. So I  consider the building of IKEA furniture a milestone in our continued advancement of moving him along the path to adulthood. Cross another one off the list. Had to do it. It’s done. Move on. No tears associated with this objective.

But two weeks later, when he texted me a picture of his first home-cooked meal made in the rental house kitchen, I felt a little more sentimental. He had requested I send him a few simple staple recipes and I recently came across an idea whereby you save these go-to recipes as contacts on your phone. Perfect for young people whose lives are on their smart phones; if they are at the grocery store, they have only to search for the recipe name in their contact list and they have the ingredients list in front of them! So he made spaghetti for himself. My baby made his first meal away from home AND it was not only edible, but delicious! I’m so proud. And a little sad…that he is one step closer to not needing me anymore. :(

james' first self-prepared meal as a college student

james' first self-prepared meal as a college student