My eldest son is entering an out of state college this fall. This is a moment we have all been dreaming about. He is anticipating the independence and excitement; my husband and I, however, while anticipating an incredible life experience for our son, are dreading the loneliness as one of our babies leaves the nest.
When friends ask me “how are you doing with his leaving?” I have replied, “I am more excited than sad. I raised him to be a man and have an adventure.” I have to be okay with this. I will miss him like crazy, but I am more excited for him than if it were my own adventure. As confident as I feel about my boy’s ability to soar, a tiny piece of me wants him to need me still. I am feeling pretty nostalgic and not looking forward to living our family life not fully intact.
My son has been a blessing to me. He is really a great human being. He is funny and confident, smart and friendly—the type of kid that will do really well in college. The part of me that is saddened by the fact that he no longer “needs” me is dominated by the part of me that is so proud of the strong capable individual he has become. He can buy his own things and make his own decisions and as this makes me feel gratified, it also leaves me feeling a bit helpless.
My husband and I have chosen to send our children to Catholic schools from kindergarten through twelfth grade. I have to say I was pretty elated when my son chose a wonderful, faithful Catholic college to attend. It put my mind at ease a bit, knowing he is still in love with his Faith and intends on continuing to walk with the Lord. This also causes me a lot of angst. What if he strays? What if he encounters someone who convinces him otherwise? I therefore have to keep praying for him. I pray that he is the best man he can be. I pray that he studies and applies himself and discovers just where God means for him to be professionally. I pray that he has Godly friends who influence him for the better and he in turn does the same for those he encounters. I pray that when he meets the woman of his dreams, she has also chosen to walk with Christ.
I found this perfect prayer to help me during this transition:
A Parent’s Prayer
God of life and love, you have given me this child to care for this little while.
My heart is welled with joy and thanksgiving, anticipation and anxiety, amidst a longing to be together as we have been till now.
These years of growing up have moved so quickly, so many things left undone, so much left unsaid, so much I still hope to give to my child who is taking this new step in the journey of life.
Help us as we reshape our lives to reflect this new reality of college. Show us new ways to be present to each other in love and in trust. Give me patience and help me to remember that my child is establishing new routines in freedom, routines different from my routines.
Calm my fears. Strengthen and protect my child in the midst of the challenges and temptations which surround all students. Grant greater courage that I myself may have had in standing for your truth against compromises of faith.
Provide good friends and worthy confidants for my child during these college years. Help me to give support and confidence, to discern how I am needed now, and to pass on, in my love, a measure of the strength and courage you have given me in the gift of parenting.
Charla is a life-long Catholic, married since 1995. She has three children who attend Catholic school and university. Charla has been teaching high school English literature at the same Catholic high school she attended for over 15 years. She has Bachelor of Arts degrees in English, Latin American Studies, and Secondary Education, as well as a Masters degree in Education. Charla has served as a lector and Eucharistic minister at her parish and school. She enjoys reading, cooking, running, and all activities involving her children. Her special devotions are to the Blessed Mother, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Alexandria, and the Holy Rosary.