• Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 148 other followers

  • “Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers” — Isaac Asimov

  • Recent Posts

  • Pages

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Blog Stats

    • 171,104 hits

A Girl, Her Cleats, a Diploma, and a Single Tear

Friday evening, I had the honor of watching my girl graduate, with honors, from Southeastern University.

The ceremony was held at a large, impossible to navigate to, church in Lakeland (Siri thought it was on I-4 instead of just off of it).

The church was festive, decorated with Christmas lights, wreaths, and trees.

This graduating class consisted of about 192 young people.

Southeastern University is a Christian college that walks the talk it puts forth.  Every part of the commencement ceremony honored God, from the opening prayer, to the congregational hymn, to the speeches that were given before diplomas were awarded.

Quite honestly, this didn’t feel like a college graduation but a Sunday morning worship service.

It was warm and cozy, with graduates sitting in the first few rows and supportive family and friends sitting behind them.

Chicky’s best friend, M, drove from UCF, the college she attends, to watch Chicky graduate.  She’s a lovely young woman whom we’ve had the privilege of knowing for almost ten years.  She and Chicky played travel soccer together for most of those years and only separated when their college paths put them an hour away from each other, playing for different schools.

We consider her a member of the family, so it was with great joy when she sat beside us.

I thought I wasn’t going to cry during the ceremony, but when the music started, and I saw Chicky walk down the aisle, a single tear escaped and rolled down my cheek.

I couldn’t help it.  It was a tear full of pride in my beautiful daughter…for all she had dreamed for and accomplished through hard work and sheer determination.

M and I had quite the fun during the proceedings, let me tell you, and whispered conspiratorially about what we would do when it was Chicky’s turn to walk across the stage.

It wasn’t long before her time came, and it was with great pleasure that I hollered when her name was read.

Chicky, ever the clown, made one of her silly faces and put her hands in the air while making some sort of gesture, the kind of cool gesture that only young folks look good doing, and walked across the stage…

All the while sporting her favorite shoes…

Her soccer cleats.

It was a plan hatched by her and K, Chicky’s roommate and teammate for the last three years.

Mary, K’s bonus mom, took photographs of the girls as they walked back from the stage…

My Chicky is on the right.

Please take a moment to inspect the length of Chicky’s graduation gown.

She, being Little Miss Know-It-All, decided, when ordering her gown, that she’d better go up to a 5’6″ one because she was planning on wearing heels.

Folks, the girl is only 5’2″.

When she tried on the gown before leaving her house, it nearly reached the floor.  It was also extremely spacious around the shoulder and torso area.

It would seem that 5’6″ people are a little bigger in other places too.

What Chicky failed to realize was that no matter if she was wearing heels or not, her body would remain the same size, and that gown would hit her body in the same way it would if she were wearing heels, slides, or soccer cleats.

Please note that the women in my family aren’t exactly known for our common sense.

Ahem.

Regardless, it was a marvelous evening filled with a lot of laughter.

K’s family is precious.  Chicky is so fortunate to room with a gal who has supportive family.  I feel as though our family keeps growing with every friend Chicky invites into her life, and we are blessed for that.  K’s family treats Chicky like one of their own.

Thus, it was no surprise that we went out to eat together afterward, extra friends tagging along.

The Mr.’s parents were also at Chicky’s graduation, able to watch the first of their grandchildren obtain a post-secondary degree.

This morning, before we began our drive home, we met Chicky and K at Cracker Barrel for breakfast.  It was one last chance to see the girls; we shared a time of sweet conversation and more laughter.

I snapped photos, which Chicky agreed to with a minimal amount of complaining.

Mary, K’s bonus mom, later commented (after I texted one to her) that the girls looked older today.

Yes, they sure did.

Although Chicky has been teaching for over a month now, and K will begin working on her Masters degree in January, both girls have firmly planted their feet into the adult world.

It feels strange to say that I am the mother of a college graduate.

I don’t feel old enough, that’s for sure, and I’ve been told I don’t look old enough either (these same people have never seen me before I put on my makeup).

All I know is that I give all of the glory to God, for it wasn’t me who reared a successful child…not on my own, that is…but God’s grace that allowed me to, and for that I will forever be grateful.

Pomp and Circumstance

It’s hard to believe it, but as you are reading this, I am on my way to South Florida to watch my Chicky cross a stage once again.

This time, we are honoring her as she officially graduates from college with a degree in Elementary Education.

She’s been finished for over a month and has been teaching that long as well, but this ceremony is extremely important as it provides closure to four years that went by in a flash.

It seems like only a short time ago when I bid her a very tearful farewell the first August I left her at Southeastern.

You might remember that post.

It was so difficult to watch her walk into her future, uncertainties abounding, and so many hours away from me.

She bravely took those steps and each and every one that followed.

Some were easy and fun, while others were much more difficult.

Her first semester was certainly a challenge as she adjusted to a rigorous soccer schedule and academic classes that would kick anyone’s behind.

She hung in there, faced each obstacle with grace, and finished her program a semester early.

I don’t know that I’ll cry as she accepts her diploma tonight because, unlike the tentative steps she made four years ago as she entered the unknown, she’ll be crossing the stage with confident strides…the walk of a young professional, fully prepared to do the task now in front of her.

I am so thankful for the last four years, the wonderful college where she spent them, and the people she met along the way – each day…each experience a gift from the Lord.

Chicky,

As you walk down that aisle, and as you make your way across the stage, I hope you know that I am so proud of you for finishing what you started.  You are a goal-oriented young woman and always accomplishes what you set out to do.

I am grateful for the good decisions you have made…for the promises you kept to yourself and to God…for the young adult you’ve become along the way.

I love you with all of my heart.

<3,

Mama

She Left It All On the Field

Dear Chicky,

I thought about the best way to blog about the events that transpired the last couple of days, and I decided that the most fitting format would be in the form of a letter…to you (not exactly private, though, since I am writing on a public forum).

I remember when Daddy and I dropped you off for the first time at school.

We were so upset at having to let you go but excited for you at the same time.  We wanted so badly for you to have a great soccer experience because that was what you had worked so hard for.

We didn’t really know how they did things in college soccer, but it didn’t take us long to learn what our new roles, as the parents of a college athlete, were.

I remember watching the first Senior Night that year, and in my head, I think that’s when I started looking ahead.

When I saw Puma’s pictures of the girls’ cleats, given up during a traditional end-of-season ceremony, my heart jumped in my throat, and I began anticipating what kinds of emotions that I, as your Mama, would feel when it would be your turn.

Never, in a million years, could I have imagined the joy and bits of sadness that this past weekend brought me.

I had known it would be difficult.

Soccer had been a part of our lives since you were six years old.

I remember how I’d felt your senior year of high school after that wonderful final season.

This past weekend was on another level altogether.

What intensified my feelings was your injury…which rendered you unable to play most of the season.

Yet, you showed such fortitude and determination as you planned your exit.

You have always lived life on your terms, and the final night of your soccer career was not going to be any different.

As you rehabbed last week, I sat on pins and needles.

Though I wanted to cry out, “No, don’t try it.  I don’t want you to risk further injury,” I (surprisingly enough) kept my thoughts away from your ears and chose to support you.

You needed closure.

Honestly, so did we, even though this has never, ever been about us.

So I prayed.

And yes, I worried.

I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t.

I enjoyed the hours we spent leading up to your game.

Our time the night before, watching M in her Senior Night at UCF, spending precious time with the family we had traveled to dozens of tournaments with, was a precursor to the gamut of emotions that would invade my heart the next evening.

Yesterday (Saturday), as we shopped together, we shared some laughs and bonding moments (our love for all things office-supply related).  I wanted to keep things as low-key as possible.  I knew you were nervous, and I didn’t want you to feel my nerves as well, even when tears threatened to spill over a couple of times.

As we parted ways for you to prepare for your game with your team, my stomach started turning, and I grew silent…even as I watched the boys’ team play before it was your turn to take the field.

I prayed for you even as I spied on you as you warmed up on the field behind us.

I am ever the #stalkingmydaughter mother, after all.

🙂

It wasn’t long before your Daddy and I had to gather with the other parents of Seniors (I prefer this wording to that of “Senior Parents,” which would make us sound old).

I talked with the assistant coach to see how you were feeling.

You were nervous, she told me, and not sure how long you’d make it out there.  Your goal was 25 minutes.  You weren’t sure if you’d last ten after the warm-up.

As long as you got on that field and had your chance

It was time for your senior rite of passage…Senior Recognition.

Walking you to the center of the field as we linked arms, felt very surreal.

Was this really happening?

Were you really wearing a shirt that said Senior with your name across it?

How in the heck was this possible?

It’s almost a blur now, but I remember the cheers…cheers for YOU, my sweet daughter…recognition for all that YOU had done for Southeastern Women’s Soccer over the last four years.

You had made an impact.

But your time wasn’t finished yet.

We parted ways on the field, and I kissed and hugged you goodbye, desperate to hold on for as long as I could.

You had a game to play, though.

As you gathered beside your teammates, part of the starting lineup, I was so thankful that you were getting to do this one more time.

One month ago, we did not have this assurance.  You had worked hard, though, and God had been merciful to allow this one final night.

I watched as you met with the other team captain in the center of the field, shook hands with the other team’s captains, and did whatever you guys do with the refs.  For all I know, you could be talking about what you’re having for dinner afterward.  I think it must be some big joke on the rest of us, because we really never hear those conversations, now do we?

Then, you gathered with your team for a pre-game prayer, and I smiled with a grateful heart that you have been at a college where the Word of God is the focus, as is developing a God-serving heart.

And then it was time for the game to begin.

I cannot tell you that I wasn’t scared.

I was.

Holding my camera and snapping nearly 400 pictures kept me from wringing my hands.

I watched, breathless, as you called for balls, chased people down, and didn’t hesitate to get in the middle of the action.

I also saw as you pulled back when you knew things weren’t the safest, cautious about doing worse damage to your knee or injuring the good one.

Thank heavens you showed some restraint…very uncharacteristic but a wise decision, nonetheless.

As you deftly handled the ball, it was clear to see that you hadn’t lost your touch or your mad ball skills.

You connected passes together…a strength you have always had.

You’ve always been able to read the field and deliver the ball to people’s feet.

You came off the field after twelve minutes, and the crowd yelled and clapped in appreciation.

I wanted to cry as I saw you walk into Coach’s arms for a well-deserved hug, but I didn’t.  My emotions were going crazy.  I was thankful that you hadn’t gotten hurt.

The game went on, and I, in my #stalkingmydaughter way, continued to snap photos…namely of you holding court on the sideline.

🙂

The second half began, and to my shock, you were back on the field!!

I grabbed my camera, worry creeping back into my heart.

Oh Chicky, as I watched you speed down the field, often just a half second shy of beating the goalie to the ball, I was filled with such pride in you.

Girls pulled on your shirt and fought you for the ball, and you refused to give up.

I continued to snap photos.

And then came the moment I had dreaded.

You went down as you stretched for the ball, and as you struggled to get up, I knew you were hurt.

But you got up without anyone’s help, and as you limped off the field, in obvious pain, the crowd clapped.

I started to cry.

Ms. Barbara told me that she had seen an amazing thing.  One of the refs had clapped as you had taken yourself off the field…in obvious respect for you.

I used my camera’s ultra zoom to spy on you, once again in #stalkingmydaughter mode.

I saw you wiping your eyes, and the only thing that stopped me from going around the field to you was FEAR…fear that you would take my head off if I even stepped foot on your sideline.

heehee

So I stayed on my side, made sure you were okay, and cried as silently as I could in the stands.

My other daughter, your BFF, “M,” reached behind her and patted my leg to comfort me.

I can’t recall the last part of the game.  I remember bits and pieces.  I only know that I kept my eyes glued on you.  By the end of the game, you were standing up again, and I knew you were going to be okay.

After the game, you shook hands, and then both teams prayed together.  Once again, I was reminded of God’s graciousness and providence in leading you to a school that honors His name.

As you walked off of the field, a large icepack tied to your knee, I saw that you had a HUGE smile on your face.

Your joy was genuine, and it radiated from your eyes.

Thank you for humoring me and allowing me to take photos with and of you without complaining.  I will treasure the ones you took with me for years to come.

I watched you make the rounds, thanking everyone for coming, and then we made our way out.  We parted ways with the plan to meet for dinner a few minutes later, after you could grab your stuff from the locker room.

I’m not ashamed to tell you that when I got to my car, I broke down completely.

It was the last time I had walked off of the field as a soccer mom, even though in my heart, I’ll be a #soccermomforever.

Still, though, the emotions from the weekend and, in fact, the last sixteen-plus years, flooded my heart, and there were no gates to hold them back.

As I reflect on this time, I want to tell you, once again, how much you inspire me.

How I wish your career had not ended the way it did, and despite whatever feelings you wrestled with before stepping on the field last night, what you showed to me and everyone who knows your story and/or had the privilege of watching you play was that you are a young lady who handles herself with grace and determination.

You have always aspired to greatness, not for your glory but simply because you don’t know how else to do things.

You told me that you were going to leave everything on the field if given the opportunity to get back on it.

Oh Honey, you certainly did that, now didn’t you?

Not only did you leave everything on the field, but YOU decided how and when you would leave it.

You also managed to play a little over the 25 minutes you’d hoped for, once you tallied up the minutes from the first and second half.

Never have any regrets, my Dear, about the way you played the game.

Never have resentment over how your last season went.

God has a plan for your life, and His ways are not our own.

This you have learned, unfortunately, the hard way.

You did it wonderfully.

I’m thankful I could be there with you every step of the way.

It was a wonderful sixteen (nearly seventeen) years.

Hundreds and hundreds of practices, dozens of pairs of cleats, dozens and dozens of tournaments, countless minutes traveling in the car and by plane were all worth it to watch you exude joy in your final game last night.

I love you more than you will ever know.

Love,

Mama ♥

Chicky Leaves for Her Final Semester of College

A little less than twelve hours ago, I left my Chicky for the fourth August in a row.

In just a few short weeks, she will begin her final semester of college.

I will chronicle our journey back to school, as I’ve done each previous year.

As of Tuesday afternoon, my girl still had not packed.

Not.

One.

Thing.

She worked late that day trying to get in a few extra hours and much needed $$.

I’ll admit that I was a bit in a panic, but I knew better than to offer to help.

My Chicky is very much like me…fiercely independent and quite stubborn.

She skipped the championship game of her indoor soccer league (her team lost 3-5…they were missing their key defender 😉 ), but she had to prioritize, and spending two hours at the sports facility ranked pretty much last.

By 11pm, she had accrued this pile…

That’s not even counting the big items.

I know I’ve mentioned this a time or two, but since I like to repeat myself, I will say that Chicky was moving out permanently this go-round.

We started loading the truck around 11:15.  It was incredibly muggy and dark.  I found a utility spotlight, which I hung from the truck’s door (we found the cabin’s light after we had finished…go figure).

Our clothes stuck to our bodies as we made many, many trips…loading up the truck and her car.

When we were finished, her room looked like this…

We will be picking up another mattress set from the Mr.’s parents’ house the next time we can secure a truck (I didn’t drive the rental back because it was too expensive to do so).

Her closet was devoid of the many, many clothes and shoes she had brought home.  She left stuff that she will pick up one day when she’s completely on her own and has a family…items such as stuffed animals and games.

See her many soccer medals?  🙂

She slept on an air mattress her final night at home, and we awoke bright and early on Wednesday morning to begin our long drive.

We stopped two hours into the trip to pick up the dressers that Chicky had gotten at a yard sale when she’d visited the grandparents.  My nephews came over and helped load the furniture into the truck.

We ran into a bit of a snafu with the truck and were delayed nearly three hours before we resumed our journey.  In my efforts to keep this post focused on Chicky, I will be blogging about the incident next time.

We finally arrived in Lakeland ten hours after we’d left home (as opposed to the seven that it should have taken).

The weather was n-a-s-t-y.  There was some serious lightening and flooding going on…

Fortunately, we arrived safe and sound, and Chicky’s roommate gave her the key to the place they will call home for the next two years…

The house has three bedrooms…one for each girl.  Here’s what Chicky’s room and closet looked like before we unloaded…

After the rain stopped, we got down to some serious work.  Thankfully, it went quickly with the assistance of Special K, Chicky’s fabulous roomie, and it wasn’t too long before Chicky’s room had been filled to the brim with her belongings…

The room is quite small; however, I suggested that she try putting the chest of drawers in the closet.  There seemed to be just enough space between the shelves.  To give her a bit of wiggle room, she took out the lowest shelf on the right.  This had the added benefit of giving her a space to hang her dresses and other long items.

She’s most proud of the dresser below.  It’s got a retro feel (I actually remember having furniture that looked very similar).  It’s perfect for the long wall on that side of the room.

The house itself is really adorable.  It’s a little over 1,000 sq. ft.  Although the guest bedrooms are small, as is the guest bathroom, the living room is large and roomy.

It has a beautiful fireplace and mantle…

Here’s another view of the living room.  The items that you see in the corner near the hallway that leads to the guest bedrooms contains items that I brought home with me…empty storage bins and whatnot.

Want to know what the girls plan to put in this corner?

A knight in a suit of armor.

I kid you not.

Apparently, this is an inside joke.

What can I say?  College girls are weird.

But I digress…

As usual.

Anyhoo…all of the living room and eat-in kitchen furniture (seen below) were donated by Special K’s step-mom.  Should out to Ms. M!

The house boasts a quaint eat-in area that has a window that lets light in, brightening up that side of the house…

Have you noticed all of the sunflowers?  That is the theme the girls decided upon during conversations held over the summer.  This theme is carried into the kitchen.  Once again, Ms. M came through and snatched up items throughout the summer whenever she was out and about.

The girls will not lack for items to make coffee in…

Chicky had picked up the French press (on the right) at a yard sale this summer for the fancy price of $2.  She was pleased as punch with her find.

One thing I love about this house is that nearly every room, including the kitchen, has a ceiling fan.  Score!

The only room that doesn’t is the fabulous screened-in porch.  It is, however, equipped with a doggie door (not pictured), which is perfect because Cali will be living with the girls.

Let me show you a few pictures of the outside of the house.

The backyard, seen in the next two pictures, is decent sized and, most importantly, fenced in!

Most of the pictures you see above were taken this morning after Chicky and I had had a good night of rest.

She drove me to a car rental place to secure a vehicle to drive home in because she didn’t exactly jump with joy at my suggestion that I stay with her for…say…the rest of her adult life.

heehee

We loaded up my sweet ride, a Chevrolet Equinox (I will blog about this in a separate post).

After we finished, Chicky and I went inside so I could grab my purse and keys.

The time was drawing near…the time for that final goodbye.

I asked her if she would let me pray with her before we walked outside, and she agreed.

As I prayed, I got choked up…for the first time the entire trip…and she gently encouraged me to keep it together.

I did, I’m proud to say, for I had been determined not to turn into the blubbering fool I’d been the previous three years.

When I finished praying, I looked her in the eye and told her how very proud I am of her…of the woman she’s become…of the choices she has made.

I told her that I would be praying for her every day, and I think I saw her tear up.

It was a special moment that I will never forget.

Special K took a couple of pictures of me with Chicky outside, and I am pleased that the pictures reflect a happy mother and daughter.

And that is what we are.

Although Chicky had gotten extremely annoyed with me during the last two days, and she’d been quite vocal too, we were able to end our summer on a positive note.

Despite the fabulous summer and the fact that we had not strangled each other during the move, I fully expected to have a crying fit.

That is what mamas do when their children move out.

I don’t know why I didn’t break down in tears as I left.

I ruminated about this as I sat in my car and uploaded the photos I’d taken to Facebook.  I must have sat there five or ten minutes, which gave Chicky and Special K time to come back outside and prepare to leave…on a mission to complete some items from their to-do lists.

They followed me out of the neighborhood, where I got this final look of my precious girl from the side mirror…

One final wave, and she was gone.

I passed the sign at Southeastern’s entrance…

I thought about the first year I had taken Chicky to school, and how my heart felt like it had been ripped from my chest.

I can’t even read the post I wrote back then because if I do, I know I’ll start crying as those raw emotions come back to the surface.

What I realized as I left and reflected was that Chicky had not been the only person to mature through her years at college.

I have matured as well.

Our relationship with one another has also matured.

I’ve grown to accept that she is a very capable young woman who may not always make the choices I would (I would have kept the nightstand and TV…*ahem*), but it’s okay.

Chicky is her own person who was created, by God, to lead a life that is not tied to my apron strings.

The summer had prepared me to let her go.

When we had been driving to the rental car place, I’d asked her what her plans for next summer were, and she looked at me and said, “I’m not coming home, remember?”

To which I replied, “No, I was wondering if you’re planning on working, should you secure a teaching job in January.”

She had breathed a sigh of relief, pleased that I had finally “gotten” it.

She’s not coming to “this” home to stay.

She is already home…

In Lakeland…

On her own.

I take comfort in Jeremiah 29:11:  “‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'”

God’s hand is evident in my Chicky’s life.

He will direct her ways and lead her into the future He has planned for her.

She’ll be Flying the Coop Soon

My sweet Chicky has been home all summer.

It has been w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l.

This is, more than likely, her final summer home.  She and two young ladies on her team are signing a lease to rent a house on the outskirts of the college they attend.

Chicky has one more semester of school; she will graduate in December.  She’ll be doing her student teaching during this final semester.

We are all praying that she finds a teaching job immediately after.  Her school is known for the quality teaching candidates who graduate.

Either way, Chicky is planning on staying down there and will find some sort of job(s) to support herself after she’s walked that stage.

We still have a little over two weeks before she leaves, but there are signs of the times to come.

Chicky visited her grandparents this past weekend, and they went to a few garage sales on the hunt for bedroom furniture.

Although Chicky has her own furniture, she’s been wanting a long dresser.  She wants something she can eventually refinish.  She is a Pinterest addict.

She hit pay dirt when she found the following…

The deal got sweeter with the addition of the next two pieces…

We will be renting a U-Haul to take these items down south.

Chicky did some other shopping, finding a blender on clearance at Target.  Coupon Queen gave Chicky a few items as well.

It’s amazing the perspective I have now.

Four years ago, I was devastated at the thought of my Chicky flying the coop.

While I’m a bit sad right now, I am also excited.

Chicky is 21 years old with a very good future ahead of her.

She is focused, and she’s been driven enough to finish college early.

Her morals are amazing, and her priorities for living a godly life are right on target.

To be able to let go of your children, you have to make yourself take a step back and remember what it was like when you were about to embark on your life away from home.

Chicky is ready, and the years between her high school graduation and now have prepared me to let go.  The lapses of time between holidays and other school breaks prepared me to accept that one day, she would leave and create her own permanent home elsewhere.

Oh, that’s not to say that I won’t cry, because I probably will.

That’s also not to say that I won’t sit on pins and needles every time she makes her way home for visits, because I totally will.

I realize, however, that chicklets were not meant to stay in the nest forever, and it’s my Chicky’s turn to fly to her own coop.

When she does come to visit, though, I think I’ll make sure I always have flowers waiting, as I’ve done nearly every week this summer…

Because even after a coop has been departed from, it will forever remain home base for the chicklets who have left.

Full House, Full Heart

Last Thursday, I drove to Auburn after school to help a certain Rooster boy pack up his stuff.

It was time to move him home for the summer!

Quite honestly, I could not (and still cannot) believe that nine months had passed since I dropped him off for his first year at Auburn!  You might remember this post…when I got home…and the one I wrote the next day.  Oy, those were sad days, and May felt like forever and a day away!

I stayed in his dorm with him Thursday night, and we got up around 9am to begin the several hours of packing and loading up that needed to be done.

Three hours later, his room was empty…

The car was loaded…

We were hitting the road, taking the scenic route home…Rooster in the lead…

I love driving through the backroads in Alabama.  One day, the Mr. and I plan to retire and live in Auburn, where we can see beautiful landscapes like the following every day…

You should have seen and heard Gambit’s reaction when Rooster walked into the house.  Gambit’s tail wagged faster than I’ve ever seen it go, and he cried out in joy.  It was something to behold.

Rooster haphazardly put everything in his room when we got home…

We took him out to dinner, and upon our return home, he settled in for some time of relaxation.

The dogs settled in as close as they could get…

The joyful homecomings weren’t over though!

Chicky arrived yesterday afternoon.

I’d bought her flowers to brighten her room and welcome her properly…

She brought Cali with her, so our brood is now complete.

Our home is brimming over with people, stuff, animals, and, most importantly, LOVE.

Our house is full, and our hearts are flooding with the joy of loved ones under the same roof once again.

Gas Station Goodbye – Part 2

Well, today could almost have been a carbon copy of yesterday, as far as goodbyes go.

After attending church, where Rooster pitched in to help with the light and sound systems, we headed back home.

That’s where the not-so-fun stuff began.

I heard Rooster make a few trips back and forth between his bedroom and his car.

I weakly offered to help him.

I was not feeling too happy.

Depression always sets in the morning that my babies are heading back to school.

He told me he could handle things himself.

Rooster seems to get a little grumpy before he leaves too.

I think it’s his transition time.  I know he’s eager to get back, but I also think that leaving is a little hard too.

We took him to lunch, and I soaked up everything he said…every movement he made.

When he had filled up his belly, we drove to the gas station at Walmart.

It was deja vu.

I stood outside while he filled up his car.

The minutes passed by too quickly.

It was time to say goodbye.

The Mr. went first.

I always like to be the last person to hug the kids when they leave.

I don’t know why.

I reached my arms way up high, for he’s quite tall, and hugged him tightly.

I always give him a kiss, but because he’s so tall, I only pecked his neck.

heehee

As much as I wanted to hang onto him, I couldn’t, and before I knew it, I was waving to him as we drove away.

Sadness descended heavily upon my heart.

When we got home, I immediately left again to run a few errands.

Starbucks was in order, but I started crying on the way.

I sat in the parking lot with tears rolling down my face.

I could not understand why this separation was so difficult…especially given that I’ll be seeing my children again in a couple of weeks.

I called Barbara because I knew she would be a voice of reason and would return me to an un-crying state.

As we chatted, I realized the “why” of my sadness.

Earlier that morning, at church, Rooster’s friend’s mom had approached me and told me how highly Rooster had spoken of me and my teaching.  He’d told her that he could see that I was making a difference in my students’ lives, and that I was very committed to my teaching.

Rooster had never shared those words with me.

While he’s a great listener and can, at times, talk a person’s ears off, he still has a somewhat reserved side.

During this visit home, he’d been a little quieter than usual.  I don’t know if it was relief from projects and tests he’d recently finished or the fact that final exams are only a couple of weeks ahead.

Thus, his friend’s mom’s words touched my heart and, I suspect, made the parting that much more difficult for me.

I’d had a wonderful visit.  Both of my children are so precious to me.

Chicky and I are growing closer…the cracks in our relationship are slowly healing.

Rooster is still exploring options for his future, and it is interesting to listen as he talks about things he’d like to do…different routes he could take.

I am officially on a twenty-day countdown.

There are twenty more school days until Christmas vacation…the time when I can fully engage my heart and brain in the fun of being with my family and, perhaps, enjoy some respite from the hectic schedule that is a part of my profession.

BYX Parent Weekend

I took a half day off on Friday so I could travel to Auburn to visit Rooster.

It was Auburn’s homecoming, but I was mainly going to see my boy and attend his fraternity’s parent dinner.

The Mr. and I met up with Rooster and spent time chatting with him in his dorm room. His bedroom was a bit of a disaster because he had hosted Chicky, my nephew, and Chicky’s roommate last weekend…
20121103-211355.jpg

We ate dinner together and then attended the women’s volleyball game, where we scored free t-shirts…20121103-210921.jpg

We had so much fun! Aubie and the cheerleaders were there, and the crowd was loud and supportive.20121103-212619.jpg

20121103-211341.jpg

The walk to and from the volleyball venue was gorgeous. The campus is a pretty place at night!!20121103-211405.jpg

We bid Rooster goodnight and headed to our hotel.

The next morning, we got an early start. it was just us, a squirrel, and the few other people securing good parking places.20121103-210814.jpg

Of course, a trip to Auburn always involves shopping. I splurged a teensy bit…

20121103-210825.jpg

20121103-210910.jpg

I returned to the car to drop off my water bottle and was supposed to meet the Mr. at the Alumni Tent. Well, I got lost. Along the way, I did run into part of the band and enjoyed their little per-game show…
20121103-214645.jpg

Meanwhile, the Mr. had bought a couple of tickets. Boy did we luck out! We sat on the 50-yard line, row 16, next to the student section…

20121103-210837.jpg

The view was amazing!!

20121103-215038.jpg

We won…finally!

We met up with Rooster after the game. It was sweet to watch him analyze the game with the Mr. as we walked around campus…

20121103-210847.jpg

As we walked, we passed below the toilet paper-laden trees (they are still very sick though)…

20121103-210855.jpg

We had a lot of fun shopping and bought Rooster a new bow tie and a pair of plaid shorts. The boy is developing a great sense of style!

We left him to return to his dorm, while we ran to our hotel to freshen up for dinner.

When we drove back to campus, I stopped by Toomer’s Drugs to get my lemonade fix…

20121103-210902.jpg

Then, it was time for Rooster’s fraternity’s parent dinner.

We were treated to a slideshow that gave us glimpses into the last two months of our boys’ lives. What fun they’ve been having too!!!

The president and the chaplain spoke, and I was moved by their sincere words.

BYX was started at Auburn in 2008, and it has been growing slowly ever since.

Its mission is to provide a place where Christian young men can strengthen their faith and serve as an example to others that college guys can serve the Lord during these still-formative years of their lives.

This is an impressive group of young men, and I am so thankful that God led Rooster to them.

It is a tangible sign that God’s hand is on my boy, and I find that incredibly comforting when I can’t always have my eyes on the sweet boy I gave birth to so many years ago.

Saying goodbye was bittersweet. Rooster always makes me feel loved and appreciated.

I’ll get to see him in a couple of weeks, and you better believe that I’ll be counting down the minutes, as I do when I know I’m about to see either one of my babies.

We Interrupt This Programming

I had planned to blog about my weekend; however, when I saw the following video posted on my boy’s Facebook page…

Well…

I had to share.

First, the history.

Rooster is a pledge in Auburn’s Christian fraternity, BYX (I told you about this before).

The sister sorority is the Phi Lambda crew…Christian young women.

I’m not exactly sure I understand the finer details, but apparently, the brothers were charged with protecting an axe handle…which is some sort of symbol or trophy for some type of competition the fraternity won.

Well, the Phi Lambdas stole the handle, and it was up to the pledges to rescue it.

To do so, they were bribed…

Into a performance…

Of which had the makings for one of the cutest little videos I’ve seen in a long time.

You know…some kids go off to college and find their fun in drinking and whatnot.

My boy, thank goodness, is hanging with a different group of guys…and they’re into good, clean fun.

Watch until the end.

It’s worth it.

Trust me.

A Mama Takes Her Youngest to College

I began writing this post around 9pm Sunday night.  It’s now 12:28am.

This is your clue that I have much to say.

I would have written it earlier on Sunday, but I took it somewhat easy today after what had been a very difficult evening the night before.

I didn’t attend church because I knew the tears were lurking right below the surface, and I didn’t want to make a fool out of myself when I got the inevitable question of, “How are you doing?”

Anyhoo…let’s move on.

What I really wanted to do with this post was to tell you about taking Rooster to college for, despite the sad tone of my last couple of posts, it was a grand time!

WARNING:  This post is very picture heavy.

I cannot help it.

I’m a gal who reflects on my life through the use of lots of words and lots of pictures.

As you know from reading the post I wrote in the wee hours of Friday morning, I was unable to sleep the night before we left.  I had many things on my mind, and I just couldn’t shut off my brain cells.

This worked to my favor, though, as I got things organized to go.

I had a young man, the same age as Chicky, who was coming to watch the dogs.  True to my organized teacher self, I had placed dog food in labeled baggies and left three pages of instructions, including a picture I drew of where the dogs’ food bowls were to be placed in relation to the furniture.  Overkill?  Maybe a wee bit, but the dogs are trained to eat certain places, and I didn’t want them to get confused.

We loaded up the car, and I was surprised, once again, at how few items Rooster had decided to take.  We took two cars…mine and his.

I took the second picture from the front seat of Rooster’s car.  Sorry for the poor quality.  It’s obvious, though, that Rooster didn’t have much in his car either.

I had decided to ride with Rooster.  I wanted to take advantage of every minute I had with him.  Despite an argument an hour or so before we left, I persevered and got in that car with him.  I remembered from Chicky’s first time going to college that kids and mamas get on each others’ nerves and say things they don’t mean to say because of the change that’s coming.  It was easy to forgive Rooster.

We stopped for gas, and I picked up a little breakfast…

I uploaded pictures to Facebook as I took them, and when my friend, Barbara, saw this one, she said it was obvious a teenage boy had picked out the combination.

I chuckled as I texted back that the food was for ME!  😀

So the drive began with Rooster following behind the Mr., who was driving my car…

Rooster and I enjoyed easy conversations as he drove.  Oh, how I treasured the hours we spent together in the car.  He’s a good driver, and I dozed off for about twenty minutes, exhausted from my lack of sleep the night before.

When I woke up, he said, “Mama, did you know that you snore?”

Um, no, I didn’t.

We figured out, though, that it was the position of my head that made me sound funny when I breathed.

Whew!

After stopping for lunch at what has to be one of the dirtiest Burger Kings I’ve ever been to (it’s in Dothan, by the way), we continued our drive.

Before long, we were entering Auburn…

Every time I go to Auburn, I feel as if I’m home.  Seeing the stadium makes me think of football season and the passion it draws out in people.

There’s a lot of pride in Auburn…

We got Rooster’s parking pass and then decided to park our cars and do a little bit of window shopping.  I saw the following as we entered the Haley Center…

Shopping was fun…especially because there weren’t the hordes of people that there usually are on football Saturdays.  I could actually shop without getting that claustrophobic feeling that I get when I’m in large crowds…

I found something I liked…a lot…

For obvious reasons, I didn’t buy it…

After visiting a couple of stores, we decided to eat dinner.  Rooster saw Chipotle’s and, because he’d never eaten there, we decided to give it a go.  I’d eaten there last year when I visited Chicky at school, so I knew I liked it.  Here’s what I got…

Vegan heaven!

While we were eating, we remembered that we’d discussed going to see a movie, so after checking times, we headed back to the hotel to get ready.  Our room was so clean and comfortable!

Soon, we were on our way to see The Bourne Legacy.  We have always enjoyed the previous movies in this series.

The movie theater was one of the most plush that I’ve seen in a while.  There were small movie screens mounted to the walls, and previews were showing on them.  Rooster and the Mr. watched while I simply enjoyed sitting close to my boy.  The Mr. took what will always be one of my favorite pictures of the two of us.  I wish I could share it with you here, but I don’t post pictures of our faces.  My Facebook friends were getting to see my saga play out, though, as I constantly uploaded new pictures.

The movie was quite good, by the way!

So far, I’d managed to hold myself together, although I caught myself, sometime during the movie, thinking ahead to actually hugging Rooster goodbye the next day, and I teared up a bit.  Thank goodness it was dark in the theater.  Although he was sitting beside me, he never saw a thing.

We went back to the hotel, watched the evening’s Olympic events, and headed into Dreamland.  I slept hard.  I was worn out.

Auburn had organized the move-in process by assigning students to move-in shifts.  Our time slot was 8-8:30.  EARLY!  Rooster had a little trouble getting up…

Oh, good gravy, but I was not looking forward to what stretched ahead of me.  Sigh.

Off we went, and the skies were gloomy.  It’s been raining almost every day down here in the South.

How things worked was that cars pulled up to the curb, where there were volunteers to assist with the unloading process.  After unloading, cars were moved to the parking lot just beyond the drop-off zone.  Then, a designated member of each family stayed with the piles of stuff while other members of the family took stuff to the dorms.

It was interesting to compare Rooster’s pile of stuff with others’.  We’d even seen, as we’d driven up, a full-sized dresser in the back of a trailer.  WOW!

Rooster’s Pile

Rooster got assigned to be in Aubie Hall.  We smiled broadly when we got the news in the mail last Spring because Aubie is the name of our oldest dog.  This assignment seemed quite fitting!

We had to climb several sets of stairs to get to Rooster’s floor.  The hallways were narrow and seemed to go on forever!  In fact, Rooster and the Mr. got a little lost the first time they took a load up…

It took about four trips to the curb to get the entire pile to Rooster’s room…

Isn’t that a beautiful building?

I had not been on the campus tour, so I was pleasantly surprised when I caught my first glimpses of the dorm…I mean suite.

The suite is beautiful!  It doesn’t even feel like a dorm but more like an apartment!  It has four rooms (one student sleeps in each), two bathrooms, a living room, and a kitchen.

Two of Rooster’s suite-mates are in the band and have been at school for a week or two already.  Someone brought this…

Another guy brought this…

Talk about a good setup!!  Makes ME wish I was living the college life!!

The view from the living room is beautiful…the stadium!!

Rooster has a great view from his room as well…one of the dining halls and the basketball arena…

We also had a good view of the other families moving students in…

We started putting things in Rooster’s room.

Rooster has a decent sized area to hang clothes.

We got busy, got his bed made, and unpacked his clothes.

Along the way, we thought of things we needed to get, so I started a list on an app on my phone…

We made what has become a tradition in our family…a Walmart run…for last-minute items.

I love shopping in Auburn.  It’s where I can find fabrics like these…

And these…

My small list turned into this (you always wind up buying more than you intended!)…

Back to school we went, where we helped Rooster put away the new items.

It didn’t take long.  Rooster is very minimalistic, taking satisfaction in the few things he has, not needing a ton of stuff.

Rooster wanted to make sure his student card had been loaded with his food money, so we visited one of the eateries on campus…the Chick-n-Grill…

I got a veggie wrap, of course…

Rooster really, really likes this place, so I’d venture to bet that he’ll be visiting often.

As we walked around campus, I found myself enjoying the view…sights I never tire of during my visits…

The green areas on campus are breathtaking!  I was struck by this tree…don’t ask me why…perhaps because it was beautiful.

We got back to his room and put away a few more things.  On our way up, this time taking the elevator, I was struck by the attention to detail.  Although the elevator goes to several floors, the hallways are locked and require student key cards, specifically coded for individual students’ floor assignments, before entry can be made.  The building is co-ed with the floors being dedicated to either all girls or all boys and the floors alternating from one to another (i.e. 2nd/4th are boys and 1st/3rd are girls).  As a mama, I just LOVE this!!

This is not Rooster’s hallway, by the way!

Rooster’s room looked fantastic when we got finished!  I loved the little touches he added, such as his Scentsy candle, which I bought him last year.  He loved Canada when we stopped during our cruise to Alaska last year, so that’s why I bought him a Canada candle holder.

Rooster and the Mr. had been purchasing little trinkets like the following…

His desk looked so organized and clean

I’m sure it won’t surprise you when I tell you that before we left, he had his computer and xBox connected to AU’s wifi.

We’re hoping to see some academic books added to the shelves below (or rather to the desktop above)…

Then, we took a look at the Welcome Week brochure, which contained daily schedules of activities designed to help students meet each other and learn about different organizations on campus…

One fun activity was this…

For the record, Rooster wound up not going to this.  Instead, he attended a praise and worship time at the college’s chapel.

Yep.

He turned down FREE ice cream to worship with other believers.

I.  Am.  Humbled.

But I’m digressing because he did that AFTER we dropped him off.

After we perused the Welcome Week brochure, we left his room.  Rooster told us to take a good look at his bed because it was the only time we’d see it made.  He wasn’t planning on keeping things completely straight.

And this is the part of the story that gets difficult.

I’d done so well all day.

I had not cried.

Well, that’s not true.

When he’d gone to get us a better buggy at Walmart, the Mr. and I started talking, and I did tear up.  I wiped my tears before Rooster got back to us.

Still, I’d kept myself together.

As we sat on the couch talking to Rooster, it became obvious that there wasn’t much else for us to do.

We had made small talk with one of his roommates who was also moving in on Saturday.  His parents were very nice.  They had left, though, to get lunch, so we had Rooster all to ourselves.

Though there were evening activities planned for families, we hadn’t known about them ahead of time, and we’d already planned to head on home late that afternoon (I’ll know better for next year!).

Finally, the Mr. gave me “THE LOOK.”

If you’ve been married a while, you know what I’m talking about.

It was the impatient, “Are you ready to leave” look.

Sigh.

It had to be done.

I would have gladly stayed all day…all weekend…every day for the next four years.

I excused myself to use the restroom, where I started crying.

It’s difficult to type this without crying.

The pain was growing.

I managed to get myself together.

Rooster was in his room alone, and I hugged him and told him how much I loved him.

He’s not a gushy kind of guy, so he didn’t say much.

I think he was a little ready for us to leave, but he was being polite and not saying it.

He didn’t want to walk downstairs with us, but I asked him to anyway.

Oh, who am I kidding?

I made him…guilted him into it.

I wanted a couple of final pictures.

I needed that.

The Mr. and I took turns taking pictures of each other with our boy.

I didn’t cry.

I was good.

I told Rooster, for the upteenth time, that I loved him.

And then he began to walk away.

THIS is the worst part of being a mama.

Absolutely.

I tried to get him to turn around for one final wave.

Chicky does this for me.

Not my Rooster.

He just walked.

And he opened the door to his building and was gone.

I managed not to cry in that moment, although my heart was ripped in two.

The Mr. and I turned and walked to the car.

As I sat down and closed the door, the floodgates opened up.

I wanted to run back inside for one last hug.

I couldn’t.

I knew that.

The Mr. drove…

To one of the University’s stores so I could have a bit of retail therapy…

And where we could get some of the famous lemonade from Toomer’s Drugs.

You do realize what I was doing, right?

I was delaying the inevitable…leaving the town that my baby was in.

But leave we did…

Where we passed beautiful rural scenery…

And a thunderstorm, which matched my somber mood…

Unlike two years ago, when I took Chicky for her first year of college, I was returning to a home that would not have one of my babies there.

At least when I had taken Chicky, I knew I’d still have Rooster to love on daily…to invest energy on…to comfort me when the sadness of being without her overwhelmed me.

This time I knew I wouldn’t have that.

Rooster was beginning an adventure that I was not a part of, and I felt left out.

I still feel left out.

But I am happy for him.

We shared a lot of arguments this past year, due to his growing up and away from me.  But, we also shared a deepening relationship as we discussed issues on a more mature level.

I’m going to miss our daily conversations…our time in the evening when we will just sit together in the same room, both perhaps lost in our thoughts but together nonetheless.

It’s hard to know, sometimes, how your children feel about you…especially in light of the arguments you have with them…especially as the time draws nearer for them to leave home.

During the ride home, I saw, on Facebook, that Rooster had changed his profile picture.

He’d changed it to the one I’d just uploaded of the two of us hugging right before we’d left.

Do you know how much that touched my heart?

I cried tears of sadness and tears of joy, and I’m crying right now as I type this.

This child who’d I’d fought with only an hour before we’d left the house on that trip had honored me by using our picture as the one that’s displayed whenever he updates Facebook.

I know that those of you who have already sent your babies to college and have gotten used to the changes in your life must be reading my ramblings and thinking that it will get better.

I do know this.

But that doesn’t make my heart hurt less right now.

I know that I’ll get used to it.

It’s just hard when you’re a mama who has always been so hands-on with her children…not as a way to control them (despite what they might think) but as a way to express your love for them.

Anyhoo, I’ve digressed.

Again.

I love my Rooster, and if he’s reading this, I hope that he knows that my love is deep, and the things I do and the tears I cry are not attempts to hold him back but reflect the joy that being his mama has brought to my life.

I truly am blessed.

I do not know why the Lord chose me to be his mama, but I am humbled, and I am honored.

I never deserved the good things in my life and the wonderful children I bore, but still God blessed me.

I’ll treasure this weekend of taking my youngest to college.  I’m thankful for the experience.  I cannot imagine ever sending one of my children to college to move in by him/herself because to do so would deny me the privilege of hugging a piece of myself one last time before the next part of that person’s journey begins.

And that is what this weekend and, in fact, this time in all of our lives is about…

The start of a new journey.

Rooster, you’re going to have a great four years, I just KNOW it!

I want you to know that I’ll be in the wings, cheering you on, praying for you, every step of the way!!

%d bloggers like this: