Thursday, March 12, 2015

Your Dreams Stay Big, Your Worries Stay Small

That's my boy there in the green jacket, with the messenger bag and the columbian blue baseball cap worn backwards. That's my boy, away at college, living a life some might say he was born to live. He has always been fairly independent, circling back to the parental units much like a homing pigeon, touching base as needing, remembering where he's from, but not necessarily wanting or needing to hang out there. Big on friendships and social scenes, small on hanging out with us. 

Now, he does love a good family vacation. And he does love us. But just sitting here, chilling with us, not so much. When he hit middle school, he really went into his room for the evenings for the most part, or to the media room. He's my gamer. Not one for TV shows or hanging out downstairs. I took him at face value, never trying to mold him differently, but missing him each night as he headed upstairs. Or, as he aged, headed out to work, or out with friends. 

I think one of the benefits of college is that when they do come home, they do come home. To rest, to recharge, to remember. I think both of my boys really hunkered down at home during Christmas break. Besides family gatherings and church, they didn't really go hang out with friends or do anything. I was surprised, but secretly I loved it. I am glad for the times when we are all back together under one roof.

I was never surprised that Philip planned to go to college. There was never any question. We live in a school district where 94% of graduates go on to some college level work. They are prepped for that. In the fifth grade, you set a trajectory for middle school and at that point, they begin pointing you to college work preparation. I remember quite a few hard discussions with middle school teachers, whom I thought were asking too much of a twelve-year-old. They calmly and firmly let me know that their job was to prepare them for the rigors of high school. And, on the few times that I did talk to one of the boys' high school teachers, they calmly and firmly let me know their job was to prepare them for the rigors of college. And I can say both boys thus far have adapted very well to college. Thank you Tax Dollars, and thank you to their teachers.

When Philip hit the youth group at church, he formed a friendship with Jordan, or J-Money as he was called back in the day. Gosh, that was eight years ago, back in 2007. See, I was the horrible mom that held both of my boys back from starting school one year. So, they were slightly more mature, and both boys connected well with older kids. Philip let me know on numerous occasions, as did Andrew, that I had done them wrong and they were graduating one year late. {If I had it to do over again, I would do the very same thing. Thank you Collins.} At any rate, Philip felt in his heart that he was in the same class as Jordan. So, when Jordan developed senior-itis, Philip did, too. The only problem? Philip was a junior. 

So, by the time Philip's senior year rolled around, we had looked at five colleges before the August school bell rang, kicking off the official countdown. One in Georgia, two in Tennessee, two in Arkansas. That left his senior year to just do some preview weekend experiences and hone down his choices. He did two previews and by November, he had made his selection, falling in love with Nashville as much as, or perhaps even more than, falling in love with the university he picked there.

His plan mapped out, he settled into riding out the last few months as a high school student living under his parents' wings. He made no bones about being ready to leave. I do think there were a few moments toward the end where he got a little sentimental, but the growing urgency of picking out what to take and what to leave at home, and making the list of things to pick up before leaving town quickly overcrowded the little seed of sentimentality. 

Of course, during all of this, mom is finishing his School of Life album, and planning a graduation party, and basically trying to just hold it all together. Goodness. I don't think I've ever cried so much as the day I finished his senior slide show and did the preview of it with the music going. I had picked six songs, with Philip's input, and they were the backdrop to his slideshow, in this order:

  • This Is Home - Switchfoot
  • Dare You To Move - Switchfoot
  • Find Your Wings - Mark Harris
  • My Wish - Rascal Flatts
  • Home - Philip Phillips
  • On My Way - Phil Collins, from Brother Bear

And that ending song finished off the slideshow with my boy looking down the railroad tracks, ready to go.
Tell everybody I'm on my way
New friends and new places to see
With blue skies ahead, yes I'm on my way
And there's no where else that I'd rather be 
Tell everybody I'm on my way
And I'm loving every step I take
With the sun beatin' down, yes I'm on my way
And I can't keep this smile off my face
'Cause there's nothing like seein' each other again
No matter what the distance between
And the stories that we tell will make you smile
Oh it really lifts my heart
So tell 'em all I'm on my way
New friends and new places to see
And to sleep under the stars and could ask for more
With the moon keeping watch over me 
Not the snow not the rain can change my mind
The sun will come out wait and see
And the feeling of the wind in your face can lift your heart
Oh, there's no where I would rather be
'Cause I'm on my way now
Well and truly
I'm on my way now
I'm on my way now 
Tell everybody I'm on my way
And I just can't wait to be there
With blue skies ahead yes I'm on my way
And nothing but good times to share
So, tell everybody I'm on my way
And I just can't wait to be home
With the sun beating down yes I'm on my way
And nothing but good times to show
I'm on my way
Yes, I'm on my way

I can see that railroad track picture in my mind, and that was June. Fast forward two months, and the college drop-off happened at the speed of light. Oh, Steve and I weren't ready. And I don't think Andrew really was either. But, no mistake, Philip got there, we got him settled, and it was clear as day he was ready for us to go, and for his new life to begin. We rolled onto campus that morning about 9, and rolled off around 4:30. See, we had to get on our way, so that he could get on his way. 

I love seeing this boy in this photo, full of confidence, ready to take on his new life, discover himself, figure out what he's to do with life. My prayer was then, and continues to be, that he enjoys the journey, and isn't reaching only for a future destination, and that he is truly loving every step he takes, with his new friends and new places to see.

Son, I will tell everybody you're on your way. Breathe in the blue sky. Savor the good times. New friends and new places to see. The moon is keeping watch over you. My wish? That your dreams stay big and your worries stay small. Dream big. Adventure is out there.

Sketch Credit: Scrapbook Generation
Paper: Echo Park
Title Fonts: Gurmukhi, Halohandletter 


  1. Gosh, I just love this. The blues are so fresh and crisp the way you've used them. Great placement of the different strips of patterned paper. The right amount of time has passed for you to create such a tender layout.

  2. What a wonderful layout Penny and a wonderful back-glance at it all. Of course, we are on that path right now and your feelings and thoughts are spot on. Mommas not ready, but the children are SO ready. Bittersweet for sure. You did an absolute awesome job on this spread, as usual. LOVE the mix of colors, the stamping, the font choices and of course your signature mark, the border punch cut. I pray you are doing well and I hope to have some time to read more of your wonderful writing. Many hugs dear friend- Janet