Leaving My Daughter at College

I write this from the road. The too-long (or perhaps not-long-enough) road to leaving my daughter at college.

Now, for a couple of hours this morning, I can sit and think while my husband drives and my daughter snoozes with her ear buds in. All the scurrying, the packing, the talking, the planning–it’s all led to this day.

My daughter, my last child, settles into her college dorm.

These past weeks of checking items off the College To-Do List have been like a microcosm of all our years of parenting. Some things Mom and Dad did for her, some things we helped her do, some things she had to do for herself.

I have watched her packing (or finding something to do besides packing) and seen in her–all at once–my newborn, my child, my young adult. How is that possible? Maybe that kind of seeing is a parent’s super power.

Mom Becomes Invisible

My other super power ought to be invisibility. Parenting, I have learned lately, is an exercise in easing myself out of my children’s lives as they take charge of them. I have also been imperfectly developing the super power of silence. I have long been good at talking; it’s harder to learn to listen, harder still to hold my tongue.

The super power I didn’t want to develop, but had to, was letting go. Letting my children try ever bigger things so they can fly higher . . . even though they also risk falling farther. This super power requires stocking ample supplies of both Band Aids and balloons, ready for sympathizing or celebrating. Today I may be cheering from the stands, tomorrow dispensing Kleenex on the sofa.

Here I am, launching my last child, and I feel like I’m just figuring all this out.

But that’s not what matters right now.

Is She Ready?

What matters is whether my daughter is ready for her adventure.

Well . . .

Honestly, I only got nervous about that when I forgot what I was like at her age. When I remembered, I chuckled and packed a few extra Band Aids and some more balloons into her luggage. And prepared myself to sleep with my phone by my bed for those Mom-can-we-talk calls.

She’ll do fine. I’m sure of it.

Partly because I know she is smart and she aims to live right.

Mostly because I know Whose she is.

That is the real reason I’ve worked at becoming invisible—so she can see past me to her heavenly Father. Leaning on His unseen arms is the only way she can find out just how strong He is.

Only when we lean on the Father's unseen arms do we find out how strong He really is.

Stepping Out of the Way

Hours have passed. The boxes are unpacked. My daughter is settled in, armed with a room key, ID card, textbooks, and a handful of new acquaintances. We have prayed, hugged, and looked long at each other, trying to understand that this is good-bye for now.

It is evening. My husband and I are driving home. Leaving our daughter to make her own way at college.

But we haven’t left her there alone. There in that sea of students, she is still walking hand-in-hand with the Father who knew her before I ever saw her. The Creator who designed her for such a time as this.

So I’m only crying because I miss her. I will probably miss her more every time I pass her empty bedroom.

Yet I’m excited for her because I know she’s ready.

I’ve left her in good hands.






11 thoughts on “Leaving My Daughter at College

  1. Karen,
    It seems as though time as both stood still along with flown by at a supersonic rate. You are a bit of a rat though for bringing tears to the eye of this guy who likes to think he’s the spitting image of John Wayne (sort of). To know the Ingle family from its earliest of days is one of the privileges of my life. Debra’s greatest legacy for now is to be an Ingle and to be loved by a mother and father who love the Lord Jesus, one another, and the children He blessed them with, in that order. Diana and I love you and Dennis so very much and you both have finished what was to be your most important responsibility not without error but certainly desiring it to be error free. These young ones will now do just as we did and now you will continue to be a benchmark for all of them. The next chapter will be just as exciting as the previous one.

    Love Bob
    Psalm 115:1

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Same…I miss mine too.

    “I have also been imperfectly developing the super power of silence. I have long been good at talking; it’s harder to learn to listen, harder still to hold my tongue.”

    I’m working on this skill! I’m better at it with some children over others!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh My Dear Friend,
    I know exactly the path you are standing on. Joy and sadness mingled together, tears of emptiness that they are gone, mixed with cheering pride for the direction they are heading…it’s a wonder to experience so much emotion wrapped up together. It is the beginning of Deborah’s “next step in life”, but never forget, it’s also yours. And knowing all the good things God has done in you up to this point, I can’t wait to see what He has planned for your “second half”! I’m praying for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Debbie! I am excited, too, about this “next step.” I’m glad I have been anticipating the transition and made plans. Things are already changing in good ways. Thanks for your encouragement and prayers. God has the map; may I follow Him well!


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