October 14, 2022 at 6:25 p.m.
The next phase in life
It was a bittersweet occasion. On the one hand, we were excited for her to start this new adventure. But on the other hand, the bigger hand I might add, we were sad our baby girl was leaving home. It is 10.5 hours from our doorstep to Felicity’s dorm in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
She is a Razorback attending the University of Arkansas, a school where the mascot is a wild hog and “Wooo Pig Sooie!” is the chant recited at games; probably the most unique in all of college sports.
From the time Felicity walked across the stage to receive her high school diploma May 27 until the day we packed the car for college, the summer flew by. I found myself wondering, where did Felicity’s childhood go?
My mom always said, “You can only give your kids two things – roots and wings.” We gave Felicity the best possible roots we could, providing her a solid foundation in life, and now it was time to give her wings to start her own life.
I have shed many tears since the day we said goodbye. Returning home without her was hard, to say the least. Seeing her bedroom without her in it made my heart ache and still does. Our home dynamic has forever changed. There is one less person at the dinner table every night and one less person in our pew in church on Sunday. It has been a difficult transition, and I miss her like crazy.
She is at a distance where a quick trip home for the weekend is not possible. We only see her if we go down there for a visit or if she comes home for a planned break. Luckily, we have several of those visits on the itinerary. It will be nice to have a warm place to go when it is cold up here.
In the middle of September, we got to see Felicity again for family weekend at the university. My heart was bursting with joy the day we arrived in Fayetteville. After a month, our close-knit family of four was back together again. It was a beautiful reunion.
Watching our daughter grow and make adult decisions is rewarding. We look forward to the great things she will do and the people she will meet as we all try to embrace this next phase in life. In the meantime, I am happy to have one child at home.
Time away gives a person a deeper appreciation for the place they call home. Felicity has dealt with her share of homesickness and is convinced she will be returning to Waukesha when she is done with college. She already knows from a short time away that she wants to live near family again someday. Of course, nothing would make me happier than the four of us living in the same town again when both my kids are grown.
My son, on the other hand, who is a sophomore in high school, does not plan to make Wisconsin his home after college. Like his sister, he wants to attend college in the south and eventually make a southern state his permanent residence. He hates the cold and cannot wait to live in warm weather year-round. But, who knows? After spending some time away, he may decide Wisconsin really is the best place to live after all. And maybe the tables will turn and Felicity will be the one to stay in the south after getting swept off her feet by a southern boy.
When I visit farms where the children have returned home to farm with their parents, I always pause to think of how lucky those families are. What a blessing to see and work with your kids on a daily basis. The family farm provides that opportunity. Oftentimes, there are grandchildren running around the farm too. So not only do these parents have the luxury of having their children close, they also have the good fortune of being an integral part of their grandchildren’s lives as well.
Oftentimes, that next generation lives on the farm or very close by. To work alongside your children and continue to be a part of their everyday adult lives must be extremely gratifying. I have been fortunate to meet families where one child or two children or three or more have returned to farm with their mom and dad. In some cases, all the children made the family farm their career. For the families living this dream, I hope you appreciate this special gift you have been given.
To me, there is nothing more precious than time spent with family. I do not have a family business my kids can return to, so no one knows yet where their careers will ultimately take them. As with all things, time will tell. Only God knows where life will lead them. For now, Arkansas is far enough.
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