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Watching My Daughter Leave for College: What I Wish I Had Known

In summer of 2016, we spent numerous hours preparing for my daughter Peyton's freshman year of college. We coordinated dorm room decor with her soon-to-be roommate and spent numerous hours (and dollars) ensuring our girl would be comfortable and ready for what was to come. We had visited the campus many times, and felt we were totally prepared.

When the day arrived for us to move her into the dorms, we transformed that standard white shell of a room into the most adorable, cozy “home”; complete with coordinating EVERYthing (so very southern).

The realization hit me while watching Peyton meet everybody around her – we were just minutes away from saying our goodbyes and driving six hours home... without her. I hadn’t prepared myself for that moment and I felt alone, although I was surrounded by hundreds of people. My husband saw that I was getting upset, and encouraged me to quickly say my goodbyes. All I could think was, “Would she forget to call me? Would she get lost? Can she do laundry without a disaster?” (The answer was no and we quickly signed up for a laundry service.) I quickly put on my sunglasses, kissed my daughter goodbye and cried the entire six-hour drive home, and many more hours after that.

The next few weeks were an adjustment (and I may or may not have binge watched Grey’s Anatomy…every episode, in the dark, with my dogs). However, back at university, my daughter was thriving. She was busy with school, managing new friendships and relationships, becoming independent and I began to witness a metamorphosis. We actually became closer - and she had not forgotten me! She called and Face-Timed me daily and I treasured those moments.

The weekends we visited her were fun-filled, special, and much-needed by this momma. She pledged a sorority and made friends that will likely be in her life forever. She was creating a life for herself, without my guidance. This was what we had prepared her for her entire life and it felt really good, as a parent, to experience. But, there were a few things I’d like to have been better prepared for – I’ve made a list for you soon-to-be Parents of Mississippi State!

I wish I would have known:

1. Half of the “must have items” you purchase will end up stuffed under a dusty bed in the dorm, unused. You will discover these things on move out day and wonder how your child can still breathe. Don’t feel like you have to buy a ton of things before move-in weekend. There are plenty of stores (and a Wal-Mart) not too far from campus, so most of the basic needs can be purchased in Starkville!

2. Have an exit strategy. Unless you want to tell your baby “buh-bye” in a room full of people while trying to hold back tears, try to say your goodbyes in a private setting.

3. You will meet some of the nicest people when visiting your child. Be open to exploring everything the town and its people have to offer – you won’t be disappointed!

4. You cannot control everything from afar, so have faith and trust that everything will be ok.

Your child will have a chance to learn, grow and become “adultish” and it is so amazing to watch. You might even go from parent to friend, if you are lucky.

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