Next Monday we load up the last of Katie’s things, help the piano movers steady the piano in the truck, and head out on the highway to drop her off at university.
My job as a mom is done.
My youngest child is leaving home.
I know I am always a mom; my older daughter has needed lots of advice over the last few years as she’s been gone, especially around her wedding.
But I’m not a mom anymore. I’m an advisor. It is different. It’s lovely, but different.
I’m proud of my girls. They have both pursued Jesus wholeheartedly, and have a real relationship with Him that many times puts me to shame. They grew up in a healthier family than I did, and I can see the effects of it on them. They are more mature. More grounded. More willing to try new things.
This, again, is all lovely.
And I have a wonderful husband, and we’ve been working on our marriage for the last year, and figuring out new hobbies, and changing around work schedules, so that as empty nesters we won’t just be twiddling our thumbs and staring at each other, wondering, “who are you and why did I marry you?”
And that, again, is lovely.
It is lovely to have two children that you are so proud of pursue their dreams. It is lovely to see them make good decisions. It is lovely to know that my husband and I will stay close in this next phase of our life–and that this next phase will be an adventure.
But here’s the thing: I am going to miss Katie terribly.
Yes, I would miss her more if my husband and I were not solid. Yes, it would be much harder if she weren’t tracking with God.
But even so, I will miss her.
And I will miss being a mom.
My role as mom was all-encompassing. We took Rebecca, our oldest, out of school after kindergarten and decided to homeschool them (Katie’s never set foot in a school; she’s going to get a picture of herself on the first day of university classes holding her backpack and her lunchbox and a sign that says, “First Day of School”.)
We didn’t do it because we were afraid the public school would corrupt them. We homeschooled because we felt that academically it would be better for them. And we pushed those girls. School was intense at our house–even if it was punctuated by marathon sessions of reading Anne of Green Gables out loud, or finishing Those Happy Golden Years (the last of the Little House books) in a day and a half “because we just have to get through it”.
We taught them Latin and Greek. They read the classics. We made them write essays and we pushed them in math. They are very well-educated.
We made them earn their lifeguarding credentials and at 16 they started working intensely at the Y. They made great friends, especially with the seniors who would come to swim during the day. One couple in their 80s even took Katie to a strawberry social last June and prayed over and blessed her as she goes on with her life. Their boss made the trip to Ottawa this summer and came to Rebecca’s wedding.
And we homeschooled because we wanted more family time. With Keith’s weird call schedule and my weird speaking schedule we needed time during the week together.
But the biggest thing was this: everyday, we’d go for a walk.
Sometimes even two! Whenever we started feeling restless we’d head outside and do our “loop”. So everyday, for the last ten years, I have taken a walk with one of my daughters. That’s when we talk, and when they open up, and when I learn about what’s happening in their hearts.
With Katie the walks have been intense lately, often lasting more than an hour. We’ve discovered new “loops”, and almost gotten lost several times.
When I visit Rebecca in Ottawa, the first thing we do is put on our shoes and go out for a walk by the river. It’s outside that we open up.
But now Katie is leaving.
Two weeks ago I decided to start taking walks by myself, to get used to the solitude. And I’ve turned them into quite intense prayer walks, replacing the time I used to spend talking with her to talking about her and for her with God. It’s a little nervewracking; I have a hard time praying without talking out loud, so my neighbours may think I’m nuts. But it’s real.
Because Katie is leaving.
Have I mentioned that yet?
It is not that I don’t want her to grow up. It is not that I don’t have a life outside of her. It is not that I don’t have a good marriage.
It is just that so much of my emotional energy has been caught up in my daughters for the last two decades, and now that phase is coming to an end.
I know I will still talk to her; Rebecca calls me twice a day. But it will be different.
And so I take my prayer walks.
I want the girls to still feel my support while they are at school, away from me. Part of that will be through prayer. Part of it will be through phone calls and texts.
But I want to share a fun thing that I was asked to review and tell you about. Kites & Ivy creates care packages for girls going away to college. It’s just little things to pamper college students: some beauty products, a healthy but fun snack, things to relax you.
They come four times a year: to welcome them in September; before they go home for Christmas; before Spring Break; and before Finals. And when you sign up, you tell them what school the recipient is going to, and they make sure the package gets there at just the right time for that particular school’s academic calendar!
Kites & Ivy initially hired Katie to talk about them in her videos. I told her about it, she shrugged, and said, “okay”.
And then the package came.
And she was so excited!
It had: some dry shampoo (because who has time to wash your hair during finals!?!), a yummy sea salt caramel chocolate bar, some essential oils to help you focus, some water flavouring powder, some natural facial wipes, a headband, and a neat water sipper cup. Katie loved it! Here she is talking about it: (the video is set to start playing where she starts talking about it, but if you want to see the WHOLE video of what she learned when she was 17, just rewind it to the beginning!)
And when she says that she’s just going to ask her mom to get it for her, she’s quite serious. She says, “as a university student I’m going to have no money to spend on myself! And opening the box was so fun!”
Here’s the box they sent out last year before spring break:
You can buy just one box and send it immediately as a gift, or you can subscribe so that a college student that you know (a daughter, a niece, a sister) can get a treat when they really need it. I think it would be great for churches to do this for their students leaving, too–to let those students know, “we’re still thinking of you and praying for you!”
(Shipping is free within the continental United States–other than that you have to pay for it. I know that’s tough on Canadians like me, but I do understand as someone who has to ship a lot across the border, too. It is much cheaper to ship within the U.S.!)
Katie enjoyed hers so much–she’s sipping from the cup from the 5 minute point in her new video on Christian romance novels! So I guess I’m getting her a subscription!
It is a cute way of bringing a smile to a college young woman’s face, and I was excited to partner with them. The preorders are going out now for the school year, and you can use the coupon code Sheila10 to get 10% off your order! If you’re a mom, this saves you the work and trouble of putting your own care package together–and the items really are unique and awfully fun.
So that is what I’ll be up to this year–I’ll be missing my daughters. I’ll be taking daily prayer walks and remembering them before God. I’ll be talking to them whenever they call when they’re lonely (or when they’re on the bus and they’re bored, which is more typical). And I will be sending Katie Kites & Ivy care packages, too!
It’s hard when your job as a momma is over. I’m feeling it acutely. I know I did a good job–not a perfect job, but a good job, which is perhaps better. But now I need to take a step back, and perhaps that is what will drive me to prayer even more.
Let me know in the comments: how did you stay close to your kids (or your parents) when college time came (or moving out time came)? What did you appreciate from your mom?