My Little Girl is Off to College.

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Senior year: For the child, so exciting! As a mom ... well, you start to think of the fact that she will be leaving, for good.

As the year progressed, we became so busy with all the college prep "to do's" that it still just didn't seem real to me. After all, we still had several months before she would be moving, right? Wrong. Time flies!

Before I knew it, we were discussing open house invitations, menus, and her senior "all-nighter" following graduation. Wait, what? Slow down; I'm not ready. These words ran through my head each time we hit a milestone in her life. But it wasn't about me being ready, it was about her being prepared. My emotions would have to take a back seat for a while. My focus needed to be on her, making sure she had everything she needed and some of which she should have "just in case." These items are also called "peace of mind for moms."

As we walked through Bed Bath & Beyond, (which has a wonderful dorm section, by the way) I had a moment of awakening. I continued to ask her, "What about this? Do you need that? I think you should get one of these." After about the fourth time of me pushing these "just in case items" on her, she looked at me and said, "Mom, I'm going to be OK." Probably the hardest words I have heard to date. And in typing this, the tears still stream down my face. She is going to be OK. And with that, I let go. I trust her. She was a great kid and is blossoming into a wonderful young woman.

There comes a point where you say to yourself, "Good job! You have raised a strong, loving, kind, smart girl! Be grateful that she has made such wonderful decisions throughout high school and trust her to make good decisions on her own. She earned this journey, every bit of it!"

As much as you want to hit the pause button, you can't. Life is rolling on—new adventures, new journeys, a new chapter.

Regardless of how often she comes home, or how many times a day we chat or text, she is now gone in a far grander sense. She is well on the road to adulthood, and from this, she will never return.

I know full well, of course, that this is completely normal. And I take pride and joy in seeing her make her way so confidently and capably. She is, after all, doing exactly what she is supposed to do. She's going to be just fine. I know, too, that we will always remain close.

Nonetheless, Erica's going to college has signaled the passing of something that I cherished—her childhood and my relationship to her as a child—and I can't help being a little sad about that.

Written by: Angie Dykstra is the media consultant for West Michigan Woman.


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