It's August, let's talk about your child leaving for college. Yes, I know it brings up many feelings. One minute you're laughing with them at a Blue Light Special, the next minute you're dissolving into tears. The thing about being a parent is that when we finally master one stage of development with our kids, they catapult into the next.

Leaving for college is a big transition for a family. For many parents it feels like a little death. In a way it is - death to the original family construct. Think about it, for years the focus has been researching prospective colleges, visiting them, talking about what subjects to study, filling out applications, writing essays, meeting deadlines. Then there was waiting for acceptances with hopes and dreams being realized or crashed simultaneously with every daily mail delivery.

Suddenly, the day arrives: the rental van is packed like a biblical camel trying to move through the eye of the needle. Some reports say the camel had to get down on its knees to squeeze through the historical gate. Parents may feel this moment brought them to their knees, too.

When you arrive on campus the excitement is astounding. Where did all these people come from? But inside, right below the exhilaration, we moms feel an aching sadness and an unexpressed fear, "Will she be all right"? If we dig a little deeper, we wonder "Will I be all right"? Here, let me help make up your bed.

These eleventh hour 'momness' acts are understandable – raising our children took 18 years to master! We fed, clothed, drove, enrolled, counseled and consoled this curious, intelligent, talented, creative, petulant genius that we have loved since the first words, "you're pregnant." And dad? He wants his kids to stay away from the beer keg, stay out of trouble and stay permanently on the dean's list. He also realizes his son's yelling over nothing last night was a face-saving technique that 'the dad' didn't take personally. He understands how acting mad keeps everyone from feeling painful separation anxiety.

My dear friends, millions of parents have made it through this transition and you will, too. Realize lots of parents look back wistfully on the days of Dr. Denton's and Santa Claus. Understand the new way your kids need you now. Assure them they will be fine, you have confidence in their intellectual capabilities, they will make lots of friends and you're only a cell phone call away. When you turn to get back into the van, pull out your calendar, put the first parent's weekend on it, smile as you do, then confidently hug them goodbye. As you drive away, pray they won't do what you did when you were their age, shout out the window to make Every Day Matter and promise them you'll do the same!

You did a great job giving them wings, Mom and Pop, now let yourself delight in their first solo flight that every parent knows is a triumph and a terror for the student and the instructor.

Mary Jane Hurley Brant, M.S., CGP
Grief Specialist
Author of When Every Day Matters
Simple Abundance Press, Oct. 2008

Author's Bio: 

Grief Specialist 29 years. Cert.Group Psychotherapist
Pub. Oct. 1, 08 Simple Abundance Press a book entitled, When Every Day Matters: A Mother's Memoir on Love, Loss and Life - about my journey back into life after the death of my beloved daughter, Katie, who battled a brain tumor 10 years but not after living a 100 lifetimes of good. Book will help anyone dealing with loss and grief - whatever the loss: death, marriage, health, job, family. Give it to yourself and to any one who needs consolation, hope as well understanding about how to manage family stress under trauma.
Sarah Ban Breathnach, Best Selling author of Simple Abundance and Mary Jane's publisher says of this book, "Mary Jane Hurley Brant's book is a gift of grace. For those who are hurting, a spiritual blessing awaits in between every line." Larry Kirshbaum, Publisher's Weekly Man of the Year said, "This is a book that will break your heart and put it back together again. This is the story of a daughter who wouldn't give up and a mother who never lost faith. The reader can't help but be inspired by the indomitable human spirit that resides within Mary Jane Brant." Jonathan L. Finlay, M.D., Oncologist Children’s Hospital LA, CA said “When Every Day Matters is an absolutely beautiful book. It will be a source of great strength for so many people. It is a great source of strength for me.” Spiritual & inspiring.