Sending Your Child Off to College

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In less than a month I’ll drive my “baby” more than 10 hours from home and abandon her. That’s how it feels. In reality, I’ll take her off to her first year of college. I’m so incredibly proud of the woman she’s become and all that she’s accomplished. I’m thrilled for the adventure she’s about to begin. To be honest, though, I’m sad for me. Sending your child off to college is exciting for them and poignant for parents. We’ve been working towards the goal of going to college for 18 years, but now that the time is here, I can’t help but feel like it’s come much too soon. I’m focused on making the most of this summer with my baby and making lots of memories for us both to treasure.

mom with arm around daughter

I remember the feeling of leaving my 6-week old baby at child care for the first time. It was like tearing my heart out and leaving it in a cute brightly-colored, developmentally-appropriate room. It was tough, but I knew I’d see her in just a couple of hours at lunchtime. 

I vividly remember leaving my baby and her older sister when I was mobilized after 9-11. I was a stay-at-home mom and in the Reserves. Less than a month after 9-11, I was called onto active duty and left my babies. Of course, I wanted to serve my country, but leaving my 3-year old baby and her 6-year old sister was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. I will never forget their faces at the airport when I had to turn and walk away from them to go through security (I’ve got tears right now just remembering). 

colorful scrapbook paper with mom and young daughter and insert of mom in military uniform

Thankfully, my husband was at an assignment in the States at that time that was non-deployable so he was there to care for my babies while I was gone. I remember a phone call with my baby while I was gone. My baby asked when I would be coming home. I told her I didn’t know but that I had an important job to do to help protect our country. She thought about it a moment and asked, “Can’t you come home and daddy go do your job?” I wiped my eyes and told her, “Daddy doesn’t know how to do what I do, so I need to stay here and do my job.” My baby thought for another moment and asked, “Can’t you teach daddy how to do your job so that you can come home?” (Yes, I’m wiping tears again now as I remember this.) It was incredibly difficult leaving my baby and missing her so much. 

After going through that experience, I have an idea how difficult it will be to leave her at college. Because I know what to expect, I’m purposefully planning activities and time with my baby this summer so that we both make memories to carry us through the separation. I’m thankful that we have this entire summer to create treasured memories together.

Sending Your Child Off to College

family of four smiling around dinner table

Eat Meals Together –  Our family has always made it a priority to eat dinner together. We’re making it a top priory to eat as many meals as we can together this summer. I’m also purposefully cooking my baby’s favorite dishes to pamper her. 

top image - boy and girl overlooking wooded area, bottom image - boy and girl smiling at each other on amusement car

Plan Fun Activities – We have planned several fun activities for the summer. We’ve spent a week at a beach house. We’ve spent a day at an amusement park. We’re also planning inexpensive activities like hikes, picnics and trips to the park. 

Talk Together- I make time each day to focus on my baby and talk with her. We talk about politics. We talk about music. We talk about everything and nothing at all. I am mindful to drop whatever I’m doing and focus on talking with my baby whenever she starts a conversation. I don’t want to miss a single opportunity to interact with her. It’s important to realize that these times are distinctly different from the times that I need to talk to her. I’m prioritizing the times that I talk with her this summer. 

overhead view of snack bars on white plate and napkin

Cook Together – My baby and I are planning and cooking favorite meals together this summer. We’re also baking together. Cooking together is a wonderful way to spend time together and then enjoy my baby’s favorite dishes together, like these oatmeal raspberry bars. 

Exercise Together – Planning time to exercise together provides another opportunity to spend time together. Taking a run, walk or bike ride together is an easy, low-cost way to exercise together. 

colorful pillows on blue blanket on bed

Craft Together- If you’ve hung around here more than about 5 minutes, you know I work a craft in whenever I can. It won’t surprise you to learn that my baby likes to craft, too. This summer we’ve been doing crafts for her dorm room. Making pillows for her bed has been a fun creative time together. Every time she sees the pillows on her bed, she’ll remember the times we spent together crafting. 

mom looking at daughter watching TV

Spend One-on-One Time – I’m also making time to spend time with my baby doing what she wants. She enjoys watching movies and we have a long tradition of watching movies together. 

overhead view of DVD box, containers of popcorn and glass jars and red polka dot napkins

I always take an extra few minutes to make popcorn to go with our movie (because I just can’t watch a movie without popcorn).

We both enjoy movies with great stories. When I saw Miracles from Heaven at Walmart, I knew it was perfect for a movie night with my baby because it’s an inspirational movie full of love, faith and wonderful characters. It’s based on the true story of the Beam family as they deal with their daughter’s rare incurable disease and the miracle that follows. I could relate to a mother that does everything she can to fight for her baby and never gives up hope for her child. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll be inspired. 

Right now when you purchase the Miracles from Heaven DVD, $1 will be donated to the Children’s Miracle Network. You can enjoy watching the movie with your baby and help someone else’s baby at the same time.    

back view of mother with arm around daughter's back

Are you sending your child off to college this year? Check out Miracles from Heaven online, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and plan to watch with someone who will enjoy it with you.  Be sure to make the most of this summer building treasured memories of your own. 

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  1. You will laugh, but I made my baby sit down and watch all kinds of movies with me last summer. She’s not much of “pop culture” gal, so I used the excuse that she needed to catch up before heading out into society. So many great memories. Fortunately, she Facetimed me often, and is home again this summer. We are spending lots of time doing fun things, so it wasn’t as traumatic as I had been anticipating!

    1. Watching movies with our babies is another thing we have in common, Seana! Thank goodness for video chats. I’m not sure how my parents did it back in the day when I went 5,000 miles away to college and only had a weekly phone call.

  2. What a lovely post! I teared up reading it and I don’t have any children to send off. I’m in awe – you are an amazing person and Mother so I know your children are just as wonderful as you are.

  3. Wow, first of all as a military wife let me say THANK YOU. Thank you for serving our country and for the sacrifice you made leaving your babies behind to protect mine. I appreciate you and what you have done. I have tears in my eyes now. Second, I think you are a phenomenal mom and your children are blessed to have a mom like you who truly invests in them. I’m so glad you enjoyed the movie and I loved reading your story, thank you for sharing a piece of your life with us. #client.

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