By Frances George
One daughter graduated from Baylor last May and is successfully launched in Dallas.
One daughter is a freshman at Baylor, finding her way in this wonderful new world called college.
And I? I am in North Carolina learning that the best lessons in life happen to our children when they are on their own. I am watching and learning much from afar.
A few weeks ago, we traveled from North Carolina to Texas for Family Weekend at Baylor. The weekend also dovetailed with our elder daughter’s birthday…in Dallas. Mary Scott, the elder, had requested dinner at the top of Reunion Tower in Dallas, where an iconic restaurant sits 50 stories high, slowly rotating a full 360 degrees while you eat, offering spectacular views of Dallas and beyond. After having the dinner reservations arranged, we were excited about a family dinner in Dallas with our two girls! One problem, our younger daughter had her first concert at Baylor in the Women’s Chorus that same night. Oops. I made the (hard to secure) reservation before checking the calendar.
Catherine, the younger, said, “Mom! It’s college. I’m okay. I’ll get one of my friends to record the concert with me singing in it and I’ll show you Saturday. Have fun celebrating Scottie (the elder).” Catherine? Is that you? Our youngest, you see, really revealed in the reality of a few years at home as the “OC”…Only Child…when Mary Scott went to college. We never missed anything she did. And now this? But we will take it! So, my husband and I traveled to Dallas Friday night and with the thrilled Mary Scott, rode the elevator to the stratosphere while Catherine sang notes in the stratosphere at her concert… but as a first, without us in the audience. Mmm. Something is happening here. I can’t quite see it but a transformation seems to be taking place in our new Baylor freshman.
Meanwhile, as Catherine sang, we enjoyed dinner with Mary Scott and as the restaurant slowly turned, telling the story of Dallas, we heard the story of post-graduate life, her amazing job in marketing and events (thank you Baylor Corporate Comm degree!), the new church she’s found in Dallas and how the transition from college life to “real life” is a transition more significant than that from high school to college and one for which no one can really prepare you. She told us of how she treasures her now golden friends from Baylor and the supper club in Dallas they enjoy each week. She told us how her time at Baylor was the season that defined the person she is today and that she has no regrets of the time she spent at Baylor and how she spent it. “It made me who I am and my faith, it’s mine! Who I am, is uniquely me!”
As the night progressed and the restaurant high above the Dallas skyline continued rotating its slow 360 degrees, not only did I find myself enjoying the exquisite sunset, the birds-eye view of the place where part of our country’s history unfolded, where highways intertwine like ribbons below, and where the faint outline of the new Cowboy stadium highlights the distance, now I found myself enjoying something new and even more exquisite in my Dallas view: a young Baylor alumna who will make a difference here as she did at Baylor.
Over dessert, as the evening began to wind down, Mary Scott asked us for the one best piece of parenting advice we would give her to file away for another chapter in life yet to come and the one best piece of general advice we would give her for right now. After we gave our advice, I then asked Mary Scott what would be the one piece of advice she would give us about our parenting and about life in general. And as the sun set on our unparalleled view of Dallas, Mary Scott answered our query and I realized that the real unparalleled view was not the cityscape on the other side of the glass but the daughter sitting right across from us. She told us, “Mom, Dad, you taught us well. But now as you let us go and you look back on the life we had together at home, don’t beat yourself up over the 1% or even the 5% you did wrong. Be grateful for the 99% you did right. You did so very much right. I am grateful. I am half of you (dad) and half of you (mom) and all me and I like who that person is.”
And suddenly I saw it. A lovely transformation had taken place. An intangible transformation.
The next morning, bright and early, we headed to Waco to see our younger daughter. First sighting since August and move in, first return trip to Target with Mom and Dad for just a few more things, fill up the car with gas, get the car washed, meet new friends and more new friends, treating Catherine to dinner along with a few of her friends from NC and Georgia whose parents could not make the trip, church on Sunday, brunch and before we knew it, time to say goodbye. A few tears? Yes. Confident that Catherine had made the right choice? Without question. But, is there an intangible transformation taking place among this one too, I wondered?
The answer came a few days later in a text. It had been a week of tests and meeting with professors and still settling in academically. Catherine texted, “My devotion was so great this morning. It was about priorities. It’s easy to think about all that some have and compare it to what I have or don’t have. Now I know to just be myself. I’m really loving I can just be me at Baylor! Oh Mom, thank you for sending me to this place, my new home, where I can just be me.”
“I can just be me.” Don’t you wish you had known that the first month of college? How grateful we are that our youngest has found the key that will unlock so many doors. Our daughter is just beginning her journey, traveling the first few degrees of her own “Reunion Tower” experience, and the view is lovely so far. Not without tears. Not without disappointments. But her sights are properly set, thanks to Baylor.
I realized when I read Catherine’s text, that in our youngest, an intangible transformation had taken place, just as the transformation had begun in her big sister just a few short years before when Mary Scott was a freshman.
Parents, are you looking for a place where students graduate with a sense not only of who they are but with a deep appreciation of who you are as parents and are grateful? Then look no further than Baylor. In a world of universities where so many students graduate with a degree in ‘dismissing parents’, Baylor is unique. At Baylor, parents are held in high esteem all four years and beyond!
Parents, are you looking for a place where students are encouraged to look in the truth of the Word and find that they are fearfully and wonderfully made and that the priority is knowing Christ and in knowing Him they find themselves? Then look no further than Baylor. At Baylor, students are encouraged to be the young men and women God created them to be.
So the next time you drive through Dallas, look up at Reunion Tower on the south end of town as you head to Waco. And think of Baylor. Think of the slowly turning sphere that represents the slowly turning chapter in the circle of life that happens in college, when young students look out in this big new world and explore the question “Who am I?” and discover, “I can just be me” and watch the world unfold before them as they settle in this newfound confidence. Look at Reunion Tower and think of Baylor, where they grow into men and women who, when they come full circle, are not only confident in who they are but are grateful for who you are, and are ready to live well, thankful for a place where this lovely intangible transformation took place. And to think, it all happens in a place called Baylor.
And that’s the Baylor difference.