Lessons I Hope They Learned

The girls leave for college today. As in, they might never step foot permanently into this house again. (Sniff.) This day would have occurred last year around this time, but thanks to COVID-19, Zoe and Talia chose (and had no choice at first) to work remotely for their entire first year. As much as I’m frustrated and saddened that a virus wreaked havoc on our world, the one positive thing it gave me was another year with those sweet girls. Another year of waking them up for their day. Another year of folding laundry with them. Another year of enveloping them in hugs, laughing at their shenanigans, and shaking my head at their antics.

But you can’t put off the inevitable, and I wouldn’t want to try.

The thing is, I’ve been contemplating this day for years. Right around the time the doctors placed two babies in my arms and I realized my life had just changed—that’s when this day began to come into focus. Blurry at first, then years later, finally sharpening at the edges and moving toward the middle. I couldn’t know then, of course, just how attached to my wee little beasts I’d be. There was no way for me to truly understand the tumultuous emotions that came along with letting your children go. Sure, people write about it and speak about it, but until you’re there, in the thick of the actual event, you just don’t know (much like parenting itself).

So I put together a list of things I hope the girls have learned these last nineteen years. Lessons to take with them and expand upon. And I fully expect that the next time I see them, they’ll be teaching me more than they already have.

  1. Always put the cap back on the toothpaste.
  2. Clean the toilet weekly.
  3. Replace the toilet paper when needed (and of course, always put it on properly!).
  4. When you get up from a meal to get something for yourself, ask if anyone else needs anything.
  5. Always assume the good in people until proven otherwise.
  6. When someone is sleeping, try to be as quiet as possible.
  7. Drink enough water every day.
  8. If you need to speak to someone, approach them; do not yell from another room.
  9. Water your plants.
  10. Keep up on laundry.
  11. Read and read widely.
  12. Always consider the source when confronted with information.
  13. Listen to your gut.
  14. Listen to other people; they might be reaching out for help.
  15. Assist when needed or even when not.
  16. Think proactively.
  17. Text your parents, grandparents, and siblings at least a few times a week.
  18. Call your parents as much as you can stand to.
  19. Get up to watch a sunrise.
  20. Stop and watch a sunset.
  21. Always be open to learning new things.
  22. Pick up whatever is on the floor that shouldn’t be, even if you did not put it there.
  23. Be generous with your time, your talent, and your money.
  24. Do good things.
  25. Dust your room (apartment, house, etc.) from time to time.
  26. Always give your guests clean sheets/towels, a clean bathroom and kitchen, and a new bar of soap.
  27. Remember that someone else always has it harder than you do.
  28. Look at everything as a learning opportunity.
  29. Recognize your privilege but be sure to do something positive with that privilege.
  30. Stand up for those who don’t have a voice; stand up for those who do; stand up for yourself.
  31. Acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses; they make you who you are.
  32. Eat your vegetables every day (your colon will love you for it).
  33. Forgiveness is important, but not forgetting is important too.
  34. A healthy dose of mistrust never did anyone any harm.
  35. Ask questions, always.
  36. Love hard.

Image of chalkboard with symbols by Chuk Yong from Pixabay.com. 

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