The day after my daughters grad party, we sat down to open her presents. People were so thoughtful, giving generous gifts with touching messages and good wishes for the next chapter that awaits her.
One gift though brought me to tears. It was from her brothers.
Without telling me, they reached out to 25 of their friends/family friends and asked them to send college advice to their little sister. They titled it “27 Ways to Survive College by The Village”.
Each page filled with little nuggets of advice, each from a different lens. Sage advice such as “Be you, Katie.”, “Don’t underestimate the power of sitting in the front row”, “Find yourself a good crew” and “Introduce yourself to your professors”. Of course there was humorous advice such as “Always set multiple alarms”, “Have all the fun, but not too much fun” and “Do not schedule any classes earlier than 10:30am”.
Her big brothers advice? A combination of both- encouraging her to be OK with saying no to things that don’t serve her as well as always thinking “Would my brothers want to hear about me doing this?” before any decisions.
After reading the book, I sat back and evaluated my flowing tears. Why was I so touched by what they did? Why did this simple little book seem like a treasure.
What hit me felt profound.
I don’t want to be morbid but I don’t really worry about dying. It honestly doesn’t scare me. But what does scare me is the thought of leaving my children. They are my heart beat, dwellers in my soul, humans I love beyond measure. The thought that nobody will be here to look after them or nurture them in the way that I have has is terrifying. Death doesn’t haunt me the way leaving my kids does. I am realizing that regardless of how old our kids are—our desire and wish to protect them and make sure they are okay never wanes.
It’s a forever feeling.
With a grateful heart, I realized that even though their sister is 18 years old, a legal adult in the eyes of the world, they continue to protect and look out for her. They continue to guide her, worry about her and take the time to put together a book to help her navigate through such a transitional time in her life.
Reading the book comforted, relaxed and reassured me that they will always be there look out for her, guide her and protect her (even though she has been strong and independent since she was 5). They will go the extra mile to help her. They will give her their suggestions, their advice and their love.
They will always have her back.
A few months ago I posted something about my kids. My friend Erin commented something that struck me deeply. She simply said “I love how your kids always show up for each other”. I re-read that comment over and over. It still chokes me up. It’s one of the best compliments I’ve ever received.
Lord knows I have no problem being public about the thousands of mistakes I make as a mother, but in that moment I thought to myself “My kids show up for each other, I must have done something right.”
If life goes in natural progression (I pray to God it does), there will be a day that they will walk this earth without me. They will depend on each other to get through the hurt and pain that is part of being human. They will need each other for guidance, protection, support, advice, and humor.
I know, without a doubt, that they will show up for each other, nurture each other and lean on “The Village” for reinforcement. They will never experience the words “all alone”.
As a parent, it is the sweetest feeling to witness a true friendship with your children. We cannot force relationships, but we can do our part (and a lot of praying!!) to nurture children who are loveable and loving people, especially to those they care about most.
The book is simple, the messages are simple, the concept is simple but the meaning… well, that is priceless. My kids are life companions by blood and by choice. They show up.
What better gift can I ask for.