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Higher education: Learning to let our kids go

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It’s a selfless thing we do in letting them go when we want to hold on.

My “boy” left before in the waning days of summer, heading to a dorm and classes, but this is the first time he packed up and is driving himself.

I had offered to go, and tried selling the benefits of extra hands and legs to move in. I wanted to help him settle and see the new dorm where he’ll lay his head. I wanted a little more time.

“Thanks, but I’m good,” he said with a sure smile. No need.

No need.

I’m learning to listen, to give space, to let go more and more every year. But you know it’s not easy.

I feel myself resisting the departure of this young man who is sunshine and happiness, a positive force and the last to leave the nest. Emotion fills my chest and eyes as the empty feeling of absence nears.

But today, as I was steeling myself for him to pull out of the driveway with his overflowing, old pickup truck, I tried to let go of the resistance and just be in what is.

The deeper part of me knows this is how it’s supposed to be. People come and people go in various ways. Even the ones we love most.

The challenge is learning to be OK with it. To release our grip and live fully and selflessly.

There is purpose in the transience of life if we let it be. It pushes us to make the most of visits and phone calls with our college kid. It reminds us to savor time with everyone we love. It beckons us to be at peace with one another. And it invites us into the only constant there really is — the Maker and Giver of all we love.

We parents go into these semesters saying this time away is important for our kids’ independence and growth, but the truth is, it’s important for ours as well.

As my “boy” drives away, heading to Clemson University, my new semester begins, too. My classes are about letting go, growing in my own life, anchoring ever deeper in faith, loving fully up close and at a distance, plus a demanding course on acceptance of what is. Soul school, y’all.

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