I stood in the kitchen doing his dishes while he carefully re-sculpted a clay figure for the final scene of his movie and told me stories of things he’s learned on the internet. I should have made him do his own chores. But it’s the last week of me listening to everything and nothing each day. It’s the last week before I send my baby off into the world as a growed-up human. And I’m savoring every moment.

Our job as moms is to work ourselves out of a job. I’ve said that for years. Let me tell you, knowing and doing are quite different in this case. I’m learning from other moms in my life with kids older than mine that it’s not quite the whole picture. In the best of worlds, they will still need us. They just need us differently.

I’m sending this child off to film school over 13 hours away. So many what-ifs have plagued me since he chose this school. But my doubts are a little quieter since I heard God whisper to my heart that this was the school for him. I know it’s the right place. He will do amazing studying film and screenwriting. He has been interested in making movies his whole life. He will make friends, have fun, and go amazing places. Those are my hopes for him.

Part of my heart is struggling because I went to school 15 hours from home and I never moved back. I came back for summer but the friends I made and the job I got and the man I married took me to other places, far away from my Ohio roots. Jarod and I have a closer relationship than I had with my parents. But the career he’s chosen could mean that this is the beginning of my learning to get creative with travel.

I don’t want my desire to keep him close by to in any way curtail the path God has for him to take. It would be so nice if all my kids would come back and live within an hour of my house for the rest of my life so I could have them over for holidays and I could babysit their children someday. Sigh. But sometimes that’s not how it works. And God’s plans for him are beyond the best I could hope. I have faith in that truth.

I am thankful we live in a time when connecting is so much easier. We have phones and texts and video calls. We have safer driving and flight deals, though seldom from Rapid City where I live now. Seriously, a few cheap flights from here to Albuquerque in the next year would be awesome.

How I pray that as this new season of parenting begins, he’ll still want me to share in his joys and his struggles. How I pray I can navigate how being a mom changes when your baby is no longer a baby. I have faith in God and I have hopes for him, but I realized something today: It all comes down to trust.

Trusting God to care for him when I can’t be there.

Trusting that my son has the strength of his faith and the courage of his convictions to make wise choices.

Trusting I have sown the seeds of relationship so that we will continue to walk life together, just differently.

If you have little ones at home, mama, know that what you do now matters. Listening to their stories now means they will talk to you when they are big. Having the patience to listen instead of fix it right away when they are teens can develop the fruit of them asking your advice later on down the line. As a blog I follow called The Masterpiece Mom put it, “Tomorrow’s harvest is dependent on the seeds we sow today.” Oh those relationships don’t just come together on their own. We have to nurture them like tiny plants.

If you are like me and your little ones aren’t so little any longer, hang on. This might be uncharted territory for us but it isn’t for God. If you’ve messed up nurturing those things in the past, it’s never too late to start over, to apologize, and to do better. And it’s never too late to pray.

So this week I will help with laundry and pack boxes. I will shop for last minute supplies to get him started off right. I will ask for so very many hugs. Seriously, it’s amazing either of us are getting anything done. And I will pray. I will pray that his freshman year is as wondrous and wonderful as mine was so many years ago. I will pray for direction from God and friends that surround him with good community. And I will pray that I see the fruits of years of listening to nothing and everything help this new phase of our relationship blossom.

Are you sending one off to college for the first time? What are you struggling with most? If you are sending the last one off, what sage advice do you have for us newbies? I love seeing your stories in the comments.

(Banner photo at the top by Alex Jones on Unsplash.com)

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