Just because you’ve spent 18 years preparing for something doesn’t mean you want to do it.
Parents of recent high school graduates can relate. As members of the class of 2015 prepare to take the next step in their lives, their parents prepare for the bittersweet goodbye that accompanies it.
“You’re instinct is to not let go, but at the same time, you’ve prepared them for this moment, and you can’t hold them back,” Susan Hall said.
Hall is one of many parents whose youngest child will head to college in August.
Hall was a regular attendee of Marion High School athletic events in her capacity as cheerleading instructor and superfan, cheering on her daughter Julia in volleyball, basketball, and softball.
“I’ll miss seeing her play sports,” Hall said. “But I’ll still watch the volleyball team.”
Not only was Julia a three-sport high school athlete. She also competed in club volleyball as well.
“We spent a lot of time together on the road going to sporting events,” Hall said.
That will come to an end Aug. 21, when Julia checks in to her dormitory at Kansas State University.
Hall said she’ll cry. It wouldn’t be the first time this year.
“Julia’s made jokes since she started her senior year about all the different times I’m going to cry,” Hall said. “Even at graduation, she said, ‘add another one to the tally.’”
Hall’s biggest worry for her daughter is making new friends. Kansas State enrolls 22,000 students, which is a big change from a small town. Julia is more quiet than her older daughter, Briana, who is 2 years older than Julia and also attends Kansas State.
“Julia keeps telling me, ‘Mom, don’t worry, I’ll be fine,’” Hall said.
Then there’s Hall herself. She knows her daughter isn’t the only one experiencing a big change.
“My biggest worry for myself is filling time,” she said. “I haven’t had this much time on my hands in 20 years.”
That was another of Julia’s jokes — creating a list of hobbies for her mother to take up after she left.
One of the things that will help Hall pass that time is sewing.
“I got my mother’s sewing machine,” she said.
Her mother died two years ago. She had sewed for 40 years. During her summers off in college, Hall would come home and spend spare time talking with her mother, watching her sew. But she never learned how.
Now she can. Her first project: two T-shirt quilts for her daughters. She hopes to have them ready by winter.
Her husband, Mark, has joked that she would need to purchase an extra dorm room so she could stay with her daughters.
She knows she can’t visit every weekend and smother them with attention even if she wanted to. That’s the bitter aspect of it.
But there’s a sweet aspect to it as well.
“It’s a new level of pride,” Hall said, “watching her start her next journey.”