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I Haven't Seen My College Student in 52 Days

Elizabeth Spencer


I have not seen my college student in 52 days.

I expect to see her this weekend when she comes home for a generous week of fall break.

But I’m trying to coach myself that I will not be seeing the exact same child I left on a college campus back in August.

I’m remembering some wisdom I picked up during my own college days, when I took a trip to Germany the summer after my junior year. Our group was given a list of “The Ten Commandments of Travel.”

I’ve forgotten all but one, but that one is serving me well on this 52nd day: “Thou shalt not expect to find things the same as they are at home, for thou hast left home to find things different.”

I’m recasting this a bit for the situation at hand: “Thou shalt not expect to find thy college student the same as when they left home, for they have left home to find things different.”

One of the things my college kid may very well already be finding different is herself. Different strengths she didn’t know she had (or actually didn’t have). Different interests. Different passions. Different mindsets. Different perspectives.

My daughter is going to college in part to prepare herself for the rest of her life, which to some extent means becoming someone new. But that preparation and becoming won't happen in one fell swoop. They can’t, actually. They can’t wait until second semester of her senior year. They have to start now. I’m sure they have started now.

I’ve missed my daughter for every one of the 52 days since I last saw her face to face. I don’t know exactly what variation of her might be coming home to me this weekend. But because some things never change, I do know this: I always love her.

Originally shared on CollegiateParent's Facebook page by Elizabeth Spencer. Find more conversation and community in our College Parent Insiders Facebook group. Photo courtesy of the author.
Elizabeth Spencer is mom to two daughters (one teen and one young adult) who regularly dispense love, affection and brutally honest fashion advice. She’s been married for 26 years to an exceedingly patient guy she picked up in church. Elizabeth writes about faith, food and family (with some occasional funny thrown in) at Guilty Chocoholic Mama and on Facebook and Twitter, and is the author of Known By His Names: A 365-Day Journey From The Beginning to The Amen.

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