If This Is What Happens When Your Kid Leaves Home For College…

I really thought I was over it.

I mean, I miss her. And as the weekend progressed, I started to realize that she wasn’t coming back for a while. So I kept busy. I haven’t cried since the day we left her in her dorm room and drove away. I’ve been a little sad, but not tearful.

We’ve talked twice. She’s having a great time.

And then today, I log into Facebook and see this thing that she’s posted, tagging a few folks along the way. I read what my 18-year old daughter wrote and I realized that she’s reached a point in adulthood where she’s ready to write her own story.

More than anything, I have wanted to hand my kids a good life. For a long time, I thought that a “good life” was one free of pain and heartache, filled with their hearts’ desires and nothing but happy days. That hasn’t been the case, and I suspect that for any parent who is honest, we know that we screw up nearly as much as we get right. The miracle is that they survive, and that sometimes they even thrive. They get their own shot at life, their own ride, and the unbelievable privilege of choosing for themselves. I’m glad that though the reality of our life – of my life and my parenting – has been incredibly messy, even ugly at times, that she is able to embrace that reality and live.

So here’s my girl’s story. I love the writing prompt; I have done it myself, years ago. But today I’m handed the opportunity to see my own life from a different perspective, through the eyes of a little red-headed girl who is seizing life by the tail and jumping in. She writes well, and she makes me cry; tears of gratitude, for a life well-lived and grace greater than all my sin.

And for the honor of being mom to one amazing kid.

Where I’m From
by Shannon

This is one of the things we did at orientation this week, I just added a little to mine.

I’m from a place where music doesn’t just play; it lives and breathes.

I’m from Joshua and Fort Worth Texas, Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and Powhatan, Virginia.

I’m from walking to the pool everyday in the summer and leaving notes in a secret place outside my friend’s window.

I’m from playing make-believe in the tree house and the creek to being slammed into reality by beer bottles breaking.

I’m from family traditions of seeing a movie every Thanksgiving and all the kids sleeping in the same room Christmas Eve.

I’m from being at church from seven in the morning to one in the afternoon.

I’m from hiding being the façade of perfection.

I’m from all three promises being broken.

I’m from a broken family: divorce, depression, sexual abuse, drug addiction, alcoholism, bipolar disorder, and cancer.

I’m from giving grace, and always receiving it from a Great and Loving God.

I’m from Grandpa saying “Always give it %110,” to Grandma saying, “your Grandpa’s had a stroke.”

I’m from six years of inside jokes.

I’m from five kids and three bedrooms.

I’m from “You are the music in meeeee,” to “Into Marvelous Light I’m running,” to “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, stop right there”.

I’m from the Fake House and Fake Thanksgiving.

I’m from sitting out in the car talking for an hour after small group.

I’m from sixteen-hour car rides there and back one weekend a month.

I’m from packing up the car and going to the greatest place on earth, Emerald Isle, every summer.

I’m from packing up the car to move out of the house while my dad is in another state.

I’m from running straight to the beach the minute we get out of the car.

I’m from playing soccer every weekend for thirteen years.

I’m from four wonderful parents, even if it took a few tears and fears to get there.

I’m from having someone always want to hold my hand.

I’m from eating my Aunt Barbara’s homegrown tomatoes and drinking her sweet tea.

I’m from stopping at King’s every time we drive down to EI.

I’m from swimming in Auntie Kay’s pool and having to use the outhouse because we weren’t allowed inside when we were wet.

I’m from too many sleepovers to count.

I’m from driving to Pennsylvania to cut down our own tree from the farm my mom used to work at, to that tree falling off the roof of the car on the way back.

I’m from letting my cousin Emily do my hair and makeup, and listening to the crazy things Levi says.

I’m from a house that always has extra people in it.

I’m from becoming extremely close to boys who become brothers, to losing them when they go down the wrong path again.

I’m from burgers at Grandma’s on Saturday nights and mom’s breakfast goulash on Sunday nights.

I’m from “Oh, you’re one of the Brawley’s?”

I’m from trying to get out of church early enough to beat the crowds at El Cerro Azul.

I’m from a close church family that is just as important to me as my own.

I’m from hearing “I love you” everyday for over two years.

I’m from having a youth pastor I can tell anything to.

I’m from mission trips every summer.

I’m from not being able to forgive for four years, and finding peace when I did.

I’m from both parents remarrying in two years.

I’m from the camera always flashing.

I’m from deliberating between wanting to see him and not wanting to spend another weekend crying.

I’m from babysitting every week and becoming close with all of the families.

I’m from running across the street just to talk to Shelly for a little while and play with the girls.

I’m from bonfires taller than trees in the backyard.

I’m from playing cops and robbers around the church and climbing every tree I could find.

I’m from playing school, starting the first day of summer.

I’m from reading in my bed until 3 in the morning.

I’m from going to Bruster’s at 10 pm and not leaving Sheetz until 1 am

I’m from a family that has a lot of problems, a lot of dysfunction, a lot of chaos, a lot of stress, and an incredible amount of love.

4 thoughts on “If This Is What Happens When Your Kid Leaves Home For College…

  1. And now, I am crying like a baby. I love your girl so much. What an incredible mama you are! I'm SO proud for you.

    I'll say it again, does JMU realize that they have a world changer on their hands.

    Love love love love love this.


  2. So beautiful, Beth! I'm all teary over here. *sniff* I can't imagine what this does to a mama's heart. She IS embracing and living. And that IS our prayer as parents, right? so so good.

    By the way, your girl is at JMU? Same town as my brother the musician. So between studying studiously and making us all cry, she might be able to catch The Steel Wheels playing around town. 🙂


  3. This is very moving–rich and honest. It must fill your heart.

    I wrote the original “Where I'm From” and am always amazed to see where it has gone.

    Is JMU James Madison University in Harrisonburg? My brother is just about to retire from teaching English there. He's taking students to London this fall. So I know the territory well.

    All best wishes to you and your family–


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