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Off to College: A Mother’s Reflection

You probably have heard it all from years of students and parents and know by now not everything is right on schedule or works to the beat of a drum. Move in day, how exciting and ridiculously hectic with 17,000 students, understated! My son’s campus had 8000 freshman jostling beds, furniture, food, music, boxes, etc. up three flights of stairs, a cinch compared to this day. Trying to get a moving cart was like stealing a candy bar from a dieting chocoholic. Trying to get a cart down a maze of hallways just big enough to get one through was another … Thank God for the first floor room assignment. I can now look back and laugh at a father’s face waiting at the middle of the hallway to see who was going to backup and let the other through. The thought was “get me out of here before I become claustrophobic.”

I have to say, the transition and drop-off was happy, sad and wonderful knowing my child was attending a highly ranked college for the education she worked so hard to be able to attend with all the academic accomplishments, she was happy, excited and eager to see her new roommate for the year.

Yes, it was memorable but not in the way I thought, including the chalk note on the sidewalk that said “Parents get your ass out of here” gave me a sick feeling and a few days later on the national news stated that a sixteen-year-old was shot to death blocks from her dorm. I was suddenly not thrilled with this grand U. But rest assure, It was my child’s first choice, one of the best colleges in the Midwest, however, I kept thinking this is one incident—it’s rare but things happen on other college campuses, right? “We can shape the years prior to college but we cannot control them once a child is there”. I didn’t believe this for one minute, with cell phones, live cams, and parents connection with campus security, college life should be a four year breeze.

When I saw the room she was moving into it finalized my thoughts that it should be another college she attend. A Single expansion room. Sardine came to mind. Bunk beds. In wall closet and dresser. One small window. Two people in this room? Lord knows her van load of home bedroom would not fit in the corner she had to work with.

It’s just a mother’s intuition, having two children in college. But it was her choice one of many she would be making in the days to come. The big step, the time of letting go to grow. Who am I kidding? I’m leaving my baby five hours away in a big city when she can’t make Mac n’ Cheese without setting off the smoke alarm. “Oh Mom, it’s great, it will work out!” A child’s optimism…. How precious.

“The cost of a good education and the cost of a great education may mean a lot of adjustments to make with you and your child,” was the graduation message. “The cost” were the words that kept flashing through my mind.

I know she will become well educated, graduate in her degree and go out into the world to make a difference like her brother and so many other freshmen on the U campus. I’ve grown to the realization empty nest syndrome is short-lived, for many moms, a new life begins … but please, now tell my husband …

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