This was originally written the day before Sarah moved into her dorm for her freshmen year at UCA on August 19, 2018. I didn’t write anything the next day so I included some pictures of move in day.
Sarah moves into her dorm at UCA in less than 12 hours. After 18 years of having her under my roof (and often in my room when she was young) every night, after tonight, she will officially be a college student who lives on campus in a dorm. As I often do when faced with change or with a trying time, I have been trying to write about this experience. But after several false starts with generic titles ( “Leaving the Nest,” “”Moving Day”) and quotes of songs (Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide”, Suzy Bogguss “Letting Go.”) I couldn’t seem to express what I was feeling. Or more accurately, what I was supposed to be feeling as our family prepares to undergo a change and a major shift in the demographics of our household.
Thanks to Facebook, I am able to commiserate with all of my friends with college bound children as they go through this time of transition. But as often happens with social media, I found myself playing the comparison game. Should I be feeling the way I do since my child is going to be twenty minutes away from home and a mere five minutes from my office (as well as working with me there some days!)? It isn’t as if she is going hundreds or even thousands of miles away to school. In the beginning at least, it is likely she will be home every weekend. There’s no comparing my experience to someone who is moving their child across the country and likely will not see them until Thanksgiving!
I also have been struggling with how to feel in my own head. If I cry or express sadness over Sarah leaving, I’ll make her feel guilty or sad.. If I don’t, she won’t know how much we will miss her. I am experiencing dozens of emotions often within moments of each other. I am beyond excited for her new adventures in life. She will be living in a dorm and on campus, taking courses which interest her, making new friends and having new experiences. When I began college, I lived at home and was extremely introverted; I never had these experiences and have to admit, I may be a wee bit jealous! But at the same time, the irrefutable truth is that her leaving is going to totally change our family dynamic. A household of four will in the course of a few hours become a household of three. There are everyday moments that each of us share with Sarah that will have to be relegated to weekends or breaks…her walks with her dad in the evenings, she and I watching our “house shows” on HGTV, late night chats and giggles with her sister.
So yes, everything will change tomorrow. There will be a before and an after in the timeline of our family. Change can be frightening. Change can be exciting. Change is inevitable. And for this change in all of our lives, there is no wrong or right way to feel or process those feelings. Everyone has a different experience whether their child leaves home to live 20 minutes away or 20 hours away. But some things never change. And the fact is that I have a strong, wonderful creative daughter who is about to embark on a great adventure. I will miss her terribly but my love for her – and faith in her – are things that will never change.
Dedicated to Sarah Lynn Brackett
Sarah, I am unbelievably proud of you and love you more than you will ever know. These first 18 years being your mother have been an honor and a privilege. From the first few years when it was just you and me during the day and we spent our days running errands, playing and learning at home to your toddler years and your preschool days, I am eternally grateful that I was able to be home with you and be a stay at home mom. Your school years made me so proud not just because of your achievements academically but also because you were always such a sweet girl with a kind heart. I know you had to grow up so much so fast and went through emotional turmoil when I was sick, and you exhibited strength and endurance of one far beyond your years, especially when it came to providing love and comfort to your sister. Although we often butted heads during your teenage years (and still do), I so enjoy spending time with you and am proud to call you not only my daughter but my friend. I know I haven’t been a perfect mother (far from it) and there are things from the past that I wish I could do over again, but always remember how much I love you and that I am here for you anytime day or night if you need me. Go change the world.
Karri Temple Brackett
August 18, 2018
Update – August 19, 2019
Today is move in day at UCA and Sarah and I are sitting in our living room at home having coffee and watching an episode of Dateline. She decided after a few months that dorm life and living on campus was not for her (as a I addressed in a later essay/post) Although it can present a challenging dynamic having an older/adult child (although get real, I don’t think of her as an adult) living at home, we are happy to have her here. She gets to live in her own space, with her codependant cat, and just go back and forth to school at UCA and work with me. As we continue to evolve as a family, we will continue to face changes but for now, all is well.
-Karri Temple Brackett
August 18, 2019