Parents, you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.

Or just as likely, we’ve got questions and you’ve got answers.

Challenge: It's Back to School: Share Your Advice

time for her to fly...

Vote up!
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Email this article


time for her to fly…

Yesterday was the day. Freshman year college move-in day for our daughter. And it went a bit differently than I anticipated…however, in all the good ways. But, let me go back a bit…

Three years ago, we moved Mason in for his first day of Freshman year. I really had no idea what to expect. Well, I did expect a lot of tears but other than that…I was pretty clueless.

He checked-in and registered. And then we waited in line for the very few ginormous bins-on-wheels that are available. Actually, waited in line isn’t really accurate. It’s more like, well…you know how it is when you wait until the very last weekend before Christmas to finish up your Christmas shopping and every other last-minute gift-giver is out there shopping too and you slowly follow stalk them through the parking lot so you can grab their spot. Yeah…that’s what getting a bin on move-in day is like. And then the elevator. Ugh…the elevator. You wait and wait and wait in line for the elevator because, well…third-floor dorm living. But, moving on…we got everything moved in and then made the obligatory Target and Walmart runs for things that, in our cluelessness, had been overlooked and left off the packing list. Note for newbies…don’t forget your fan in your dining room at home. And…for the love of all things hot and holy…if you do remember the fan…make it the first thing you unpack. Move-in gets hot…just sayin’. Oh…and check the radar before that obligatory superstore trip…because it may or may not result in loading and unloading the vehicle in a torrential downpour under tornado warnings. Because that makes the likelihood of getting back the coveted bin-on-wheels you gave up for the supply run a whole new level of not gonna happen.


Anyway… we got our boy moved in and settled and then the move-in powers that be had the nerve to pack the evening full of Freshman “getting to know you” activities forcing us to leave. Here’s where things got teary. As much as Mason thought he was ready to move-in, move-on and start this new chapter…I wasn’t so convinced. When we were forced to leave left…his roommate had not arrived yet. His suitemates had not arrived. And, he knew only one other person on campus but didn’t know where she was. This was all too much for this momma’s heart and the floodgates opened. And didn’t close for the entire 2 1/2 hour ride home. Or for the rest of the night after that. Or for a couple of days following that. But, flash-forward to now. He is exactly where he belongs. Starting his Senior year at a college he loves, in the ATR program he worked so hard to get into, with an amazing girlfriend by his side. I’d say that things seem to have worked out.

So…back to yesterday. Ellie’s move-in experience was so completely different than Mason’s. She checked-in and registered…yeah that was the same…but then, not so much the same. We didn’t have to stalk people or body-check anyone for the infamous bin-on-wheels. For a few reasons. Ellie is attending a much smaller, perfect-for-her college with fewer total on-campus students than many metropolitan-city high schools. And as a student-athlete, she had a move-in date that was a few days ahead of the general campus population. And, her siblings came down with us and helped haul everything in. And, she packed waaaay less than her older brother. The waiting and waiting and waiting for an elevator. Nope. Because, well…first-floor dorm living. The obligatory trip to the superstore. Nope…because we’re not newbies this time. We didn’t leave anything off the list. The fan was not left behind in the dining room; her dorm is air-conditioned; and there were no torrential downpours or tornado warnings.


So, we got our girl moved in and settled. Suddenly a twinge of familiar dread and tears bubbled up to the surface. Once again, the move-in powers that be…Coach Merchant and the NCAA…had packed the afternoon and evening full of compliance meetings, “getting to know you” team activities and equipment hand-outs…forcing us to leave. Yep…this is again where things got teary. Teary…but okay.


Ellie and her roommate have been texting all summer and had already met each other in person. Her suitemates had not arrived yet, but she has met them already. And…she does know several of the other girls on campus already. She’s been texting with her team and has participated in workouts and open-gym sessions with them. Many of them stopped into her room yesterday…”hi, so glad you’re finally here; how was your drive; do you need any help with anything; meet us in the dining hall at 11:30 for lunch…while she and her roommate were moving in. This. These gestures right here showcase the environment that Coach Merchant has created and fostered for these girls and this team. This is a huge reason Ellie chose to be a Comet. This is the reason that…even through my tears…I know she will be okay. I’m pretty sure things will work out.


Now…I may need someone to check in on me in a few days, though. As many of you know and many others are soon to find out…when you have a child leave for college…it isn’t only your child that’s leaving. Ellie, like most teens, was gone from the house a lot this summer. She worked full-time, she traveled downstate for training, she had a workout schedule to adhere to and, of course, friends to spend time with. But, when she was home…so were two or three or eight other people. Our house was filled with so much noise, and love, and energy, and laughter this summer. And…I loved every minute of it. Today…it is suddenly very quiet at our house. When we pulled in to an empty driveway (and yard) last night, Mike looked at me and said, “I know I grumbled a lot about all of the cars this summer, but it sure seems strange to not have any of them here right now.” Yep…it sure does.


But…it’s time. It’s time for her to fly. After all, this is what we raise our children to do. To leave us. But…we hope that in their leaving, they take with them the things we’ve worked so very hard to give them. My sweet girl…I hope you take with you strength and confidence. Remember what you’re capable of and how much you’re worth. I hope you take with you honesty and authenticity. Remember to always be truthful to those around you and at the same time, be true to yourself. Never compromise who you are to fit someone else’s idea of who you should be. I hope you take with you humility. Always be quietly proud of all of the success you’ve earned and never stop working hard to better yourself. And, most of all, I hope you take with you family and love. So…you go now. Soar high. Make a difference. Do something big. Spread your wings. But…always, always remember where home is.


This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.