Slowing Down and Leaning in: Launching my first child into college

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On a pretty normal day last April, I was cleaning my house and listening to a podcast while I cleaned, as I so often do. In the episode, a married couple was being interviewed about their family mission statement, and how to create goals for your family. What I thought I was going to hear were tips on becoming more time-efficient, or creating better systems around the house, but what they actually said was so much simpler and profound.

The couple shared that they had twin sons about to leave for college. Their goal was to prioritize that sweet, special season, lean into that, and say no to most other things. As I listened I found my normally unemotional self starting to cry as I realized that my own son was gearing up to leave home and that other than the functional things like, “Did you do your FAFSA?” I hadn’t really internalized what this meant for our family. I realized I needed to slow down and lean into this season of launching my first child into college.

Prior to this realization, I had been making all the plans, and rather than slowing down and leaning in, I was in a frantic season of life. I was considering changing careers and going to nursing school. I was strategizing how to grow my at-home business. I’d been offered an opportunity to be interviewed on a podcast that would potentially bring my work to a wider audience and could draw significantly more clients. I was brainstorming with my husband on some work goals. We were considering taking a trip. I had been asked to volunteer for several things. I was busy, busy, busy and I was pretty unhappy with all the questions in my head about what goals I should pursue next.

Really, the answer had been in front of me the whole time: I needed to slow down and lean into this season before my baby left home for college.

I felt like a light bulb had gone off and I picked up the phone and called my husband at work. “I figured it out,” I told him. “I know what we need to do.” We were both teary as he said he completely agreed with me and we planned to just NOT do all the things. It was such a sense of relief to know where our priorities needed to be focused.

So I said “Not right now,” to nursing school. I said no to the podcast opportunity. I said no to volunteering more at church. I even said no to contributing to Coastal Bend Mom Collective (though I probably should have communicated that better!).

We spent a sweet summer traveling, going to the beach, seeing friends, and having my son’s friends over. He actually wasn’t around as much as I would have liked, but that’s teenagers for you!

My boy has been away at college for two weeks now and I’m back to dreaming about future goals and plans (and writing here!) but it’s with the sense of peace that I prioritized the right things during the right season.

 

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