I've seen a lot of college-moving-in posts lately, and they caused me to remember the feelings I experienced when dropping my oldest off only one state away years ago. It felt like he was living across the country. It felt as if my arm was being cut off and there was nothing I could do about it. Although I was beyond thrilled for him, it hurt! My heart goes out to you first time college parents, it's one of the hardest things you'll ever do. It's also one of the most exciting things you'll ever do. Go ahead and ugly cry as you do a happy dance, it's all acceptable.
My story took a turn we didn't see coming, and the journey is still not over. My bright eyed man-child made some poor decisions that forced his dad and I to bring him home the following year. His GPA reflected the challenges he had with finding his way to a classroom. Any classroom. I didn't know a breathing human could have a GPA that low! He was broken, we were disappointed. He'd had a GREAT time, but not earned great grades. We went through the discussions of what we could've done better as parents, where we went wrong, and how in the world could this have happened to our brilliant boy. We were sad, then mad, then scared. What would his future look like now?
I prayed for that child more than I ever did before. Even more than when he began driving by himself for the first time! He was back under my roof, I'll admit that felt kinda nice, but there was a Mt. Everest sized challenge ahead of him. I wasn't going to give up on him, even if he gave up on himself. Day by day, year by year, argument by argument, tear by tear.......that child clawed his way back. He worked full time and went to school online. He had highs and lows. We drove each other nuts and loved each other unconditionally. Let me tell you, the scenic route through college is NOT easy.
Last week, he received the news that he completed his associates degree. This only means he is halfway through undergrad, but it deserved a happy dance. Since he's settled into pre-law, he still has a long road ahead of him. Because we made him work full time and only take part time classes, it's taken seven years to get two years under his belt. Well, technically six, because that first one was a wash! He's learned many life lessons along the way. I've watched him mature and take his classes seriously. I know he's ready to go back to full time school and tackle the next step. He also found out his GPA was now sitting over the 3.0 mark. That is a miracle!
To all you parents of new college students, I pray your child doesn't take the collegiate scenic route. However, if they do, don't give up on them! Yes, you'll have to endure some embarassment, shame, worry...all the stuff Satan tries to destroy us with..... but keep pushing them to climb that mountain! Understand that your child is not a failure just because he/she made some poor choices. Persistence and determination will be gained through the journey, and that will serve them well in life. Do happy dances for every success along the way, no matter how small.
So, what's next? We're not sure. Quitting is not an option of course, but we're beginning the discussions of his next move. It will most likely involve packing him up again and going through the same emotions as seven years ago, but this time it will be less teary. He's ready. The concerns will be different as he will be "the old guy" on campus. Maybe he will keep a young freshman from making the same mistakes he did by sharing his story. Wherever he lands, I know God will continue to work in him and through him for good. One day, he'll hang a shingle and we'll do yet another happy dance. That one will be a hard-earned, old school funk kind of dance. I might break a hip, but I'm going to dance!
Do you have any advice for the collegiate parent newbies out there? We know they're hurting and worrying a little extra these days. Post your two cents below!
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