I think the college choice process officially ends the day you drive your son or daughter to college for the first time. I had been imagining this day for the past couple months. As we got closer to move-in day, what I envisioned as our last hug brought tears to my eyes. I thought back over the past 18 years often and wondered how that dark-haired little baby I still remembered bringing home from the hospital could be leaving home. Nothing has told me “you’re getting old” quite like preparing to take our oldest daughter to college. I realized how fleeting time really is.
As my daughter trained for college cross country over the summer, amassing a total of 300 running miles, I had opportunities to run with her on the weekends. Well, run behind her would be more accurate! It was a good bonding experience though. We planned to do one more run together the morning before we headed for her college. It didn’t turn out quite as I had expected. As Project Manager Mom, making sure everything was in order, I printed a copy of my daughter’s class schedule for her to take along. On my way to retrieve it from the printer in socks on a slippery floor, I bashed my little toe into a wall corner. Collapsing to the floor, I thought, “This is not going to stop me from running!” I was determined. I needed this run for sentimental reasons. We went to a pretty state park with trails near our house. The trail we chose turned out to be only about a mile and a half, with the second half all a steep uphill grade back to the parking lot. It was about half the distance we had planned, but given the discomfort in my toe, I decided that was enough. Not much of a workout, but still a final run to close out the summer.
We made a leisurely trip to the campus, stopping along the way to get a rug our daughter wanted for her dorm room and stopping for dinner once we got into town. After unloading and going to get ice cream, it was time to stay goodbye, with hugs and tears all around.
There was a sense of loss unlike anything I have ever experienced before, because it was a half-sad, half-happy occasion. Although our daughter was a little afraid of the unknown ahead of her, she was excited about all the opportunities to come. We were excited for her; we just didn’t want to lose our little girl. We knew that our relationship with her would change forever. As we left campus, even though I was sad to leave her, I felt a strong sense of peace. I felt like we were leaving her in a place she belonged. I realized that despite all my doubts (Did she make the right choice? Was she missing out on another opportunity? Should we have gone for a school with a greater reputation?), I had always thought this was the place for her.
So far, after two days of cross country camp, she is happy. I know there are bound to be bumps along the road at some point. I just hope they aren’t major ones.
I think if your student sets foot on campus with no regrets, and as parents you feel good about the end result, then it was a choice well made.