Plan Ahead for Life’s Milestones
My world changed a few weeks ago. It was something that many of you reading this have been through and survived. Sending my oldest child off to college was something that I literally had been thinking about and planning toward for more than eighteen years. Some people approach this milestone with shouts of jubilation while others, like me, find themselves in tears. I’ve spent time enjoying memories of moments with that little girl with freckles and pigtails who has grown into a remarkable and self-sufficient young lady. As parents, we know this change is coming, we can even put it on the calendar in magic marker, but somehow the actual experience surprises us. It causes us to reminisce, to laugh, to cry, to hope, and to pray.
I can distinctly recall thinking about “moving day” eighteen years ago. I can remember looking down at my new born daughter and saying to her “These years are going to fly.” At twenty three years old, I didn’t have a clue about how fast the years would pass us by.
As young parents it all started with asking the question, “What do we want for her?” Like so many of you, we wanted to provide a college education for our daughter. With this knowledge, we started planning. Where might she go to college? How much will it cost? How do you factor in inflation? These were all questions we had to answer. Then the hard part began. If this was important to us we were going to have to be disciplined with our savings and willing to say no to a few things along the way. In 1994 it all seemed so far away. It was tempting to wait a few years or save less than we knew we needed to because we thought we had plenty of time.
Moving my daughter into her college dorm caused me to think about the different transitions we face in our lives, many of them very common to all of us. It begins with graduating high school and realizing the decisions that lay before us. Whether that meant college, a first job, or joining the military we find ourselves on our own. Graduating college, advancing in a career, getting married, having children are all very common moments of transition. At times, we look back and wonder “Where did the time go?”
I see more moments of transition on the horizon in the next twenty years. I look forward to a future filled with sending another daughter to college, dancing at their weddings, holding a grandchild for the first time, quality time with my parents, and enjoying quiet moments with my wife. It is important to define these significant life events and then be intentional in planning for them.
As we drove off campus and headed home, I was struck by the emotion of this bittersweet moment. We had prepared for this time; but we weren’t really prepared for it. We were also excited about the opportunities that lay before our daughter and we knew that she was ready for her future. These are the sorts of experiences that make up our lives. Approaching them with preparation, planning, and intention allows us to have the peace of mind that we are equipped for these moments of transition.