Dirty Sheets Have Little Bugs in Them (and 36 More Nuggets For My College-Bound Son)



The college-bound countdown is here

Like so much about parenting, and life, really, we don’t really know how we’ll react until we are there. In just about 48 hours from now my college-bound son and I will board a plane and embark on the journey that is college drop-off day.

It’s a day we have planned for, I have helped him prepare for, and one that he is more than ready for. 

(UPDATE): This post was written a couple of years ago when my son was about to become a college freshman. Little did I know I’d keep referring back to my list every year as he returned back to school – scroll down to read the tips and you’ll see what I mean about how applicable these little life lessons are – at any age!

Separated by an ocean

Will I have a blubbering break down? Who knows. He is my #2 to leave home, and the “baby” of the family, so the nest will be empty, that is one thing I know. Still, I sense that there are big things in store for both us in our futures. I will learn to adjust, the same way I did with #1, although it may take some time for the lump in my throat to disappear. We will do our mom and son thing in a different, but still special way, as he attends school 2,500 miles from home. We will be separated by an ocean, but still connected in spirit (and Facetime!).

College-bound: It’s time!

So today, as I reflect on all the diaper changing, basketball gaming, ER visiting, homework sessioning, cross-country running, movie going, music blasting, mom-chauffeurring, shoe-shopping, choir singing, girlfriend talking, prom prepping, SAT testing, advice giving, cooking lessoning, Netflix binging, driving practicing, and a LOT of volleyballing we’ve done over the years, I couldn’t be prouder of the young man that God has given me the honor of raising. With 19 years of preparation, you are finally college-bound and it’s time for “adulting”. Time to fly and leave the nest!

But wait! Before you go…

Ok, so before I get too sappy, I’ve been reading a lot on “empty nesting” lately as I prepare for what MY life is about to look like. I highly recommend one of my favorite blogs that you will just love if you are (or are soon to be) an empty nester yourself (if you aren’t, bookmark it and come back in a few years, it will be worth the wait). It’s called Grown and Flown, and I have to give them a shout out for helping me not only deal with the weird flood of emotions that seem to be surfacing lately, but for making me literally laugh out loud at myself along the way – because without humor, life would be rather dull, wouldn’t it?

My best mom advice for college drop off day

Anyway, I just had to share my own version of a “mom’s best advice for her college-bound freshman”. I read a similar list on their blog, and adapted my version to make it relate more specifically to my son (I’ll be presenting my list to him tonight at dinner).

Honestly, I am so excited for him, I can’t wait to hear stories of his dorm, classes, coaches, teammates, and new friends. I hope he will fail a little and succeed a lot. I hope this list makes him laugh a little and think a little, and that one day the voice in his head that has been mine all these years is replaced with his own, accompanied by the whispers of a loving God guiding him along the way as he learns to spread his wings and fly.


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Best Mom Advice for My College Bound Son

To my son, who has given me more joy than I can put into words,

Son, here’s to you and your future, but first, be mindful of a few things:

  1. Be proud of yourself for what you’ve accomplished so far in life, and see a positive vision of where you are headed. Never let negative self-talk be louder than your optimistic, cheerful heart (Jeremiah 29:11).
  2. Dirty sheets have little bugs in them. So do clothes left on the bathroom floor. Wash your sheets at least every 2 weeks. While you’re at it, clean the toilet every so often, too.
  3. Go to class. Study. Your first instinct might be that college life seems like a long sleep-over,  but you have a job to do. It’s called graduate in 4 years. 5 is fine, too.
  4. Give 110% in everything you do or it’s not really worth the trouble. Anything less is lame. Don’t be lame.
  5. Being nice to nice people is easy. Being nice to a$%holes is your WWJD moment. Have lots of WWJD moments in your life (Psalm 119:105).
  6. Be on time early for everything. Do not cancel plans with people at the last-minute. That’s called being a flake. NOT being a flake is one of the most attractive qualities in a human – and an employee.
  7. If you have a problem, solve it. First, take a breath. Then think through how you can fix it, or at least improve the situation. When that fails, call me. Or your sister.
  8. Look for the funny in everything and you will always find joy. This is actually something YOU have taught me, so thanks for that.
  9. Always having a stash of extra toilet paper is a beautiful thing.
  10. Drinking isn’t as glamorous as people think. Getting $hitfaced drunk is lame and will never lead to good things. Don’t be lame.
  11. Don’t have sex until you are married and are prepared to become a father. Seriously (Hebrews 13:4).
  12. Answer your texts. It takes 2 seconds and it means the world to me. If not, I will photobomb your social media relentlessly, and that will suck for you more. So will paying your own cell phone bill.
  13. Do not photograph your private parts, pictures of you holding red cups, or ping-pong balls. Or anything else you wouldn’t want on your grandma’s Facebook feed.
  14. Play video games to unwind, but play them sparingly. Studying, working out, sleeping, and interacting with real people are more important.
  15. Once in a while, watch the local news on TV. Know what’s going on in the world around you so you can hold an intelligent conversation.  
  16. Women are confusing. Just do your best and stay true to your values. If that fails, call me. Or your sister.
  17. Soon you will begin to realize that your body and brain function so much better when you feed it real food. Don’t argue with your body. Or your brain.
  18. Be a good friend, and a better teammate.
  19. Talk to God daily. Ask and let Him guide your steps. Doing life is hard enough without trying to do it alone (Deuteronomy 31:8).
  20. Choosing a spouse is the most important decision you will ever make, so don’t rush it. There are many fish in the sea. Be patient and find a good fish (Proverbs 31).
  21. Treat women beautifully. They will be some of your best friends and are great listeners.
  22. Remember that your sister is one of the only people who has known you inside and out since the day you were born. Never forget that she is there for you, and never let her down.
  23. A quality haircut and good shampoo are essential. So is deodorant.
  24. Always keep at least one dress shirt (that is already ironed) in your closet. You never know when that important event/person will come by.
  25. When a woman is set on trying to change you, run.
  26. Branch out and meet new people, but realize that if your friends are jerks, you will not be far behind. Choose wisely.
  27. Toothbrushes do not last forever. Nor does that milk in the fridge.
  28. Drugs will make you stupid, waste your money, don’t bring good people into your life, get you into trouble, and become a habit you might find hard to break. Just say no. Seriously (2 Peter 1:5-10).
  29. Smile in all your photos. You never know where that picture will end up.
  30. Never forget that the internet is forever. Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your coach, future boss, or new father-in-law to see. They have Google and probably know how to use it.
  31. Calling home for no special reason is always, always a good idea.
  32. Thoughtfulness will always be remembered and appreciated so never accept a dinner invitation or weekend’s stay without a small token of gratitude.
  33. Look for ways to help those younger or less fortunate than you. Serve willingly and graciously (Galatians 5:22-23).
  34. Always spend less than you make. Give every dollar a name on paper, on purpose, before the month begins.
  35. Save a little, spend a little, and give a little. Live life in financial balance, and remember, the borrower is slave to the lender (Proverbs 22:7).
  36. Embrace failure every day. It is what will pave the road to your success.
  37. When you mess up, be a man and own it, then apologize for it. When you REALLY mess up, give me a call and I’ll talk you down.

And that, my son, is my best college-bound advice I have for you as you embark on the journey ahead. You have worked hard, you’ve earned your ticket, now it’s your time to fly! You are going to have a blast!

I love you.


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