My Facebook feed is filled with statuses of young people who are going off to college. Parents have posted pictures of various aspects of the approaching college experience: the “stuff” that has been accumulated to outfit a dorm room; dorm rooms after set up; student send-offs and final hugs; and these same young people posing on beautiful campuses, just before the parents get in the car for the drive home.
My son will leave for college in a few short days. We have a pile of “stuff” in our house that we are trying to pack into as few containers as possible. I am washing towels and bedding and clothes. I have collected paper goods and toiletries and school supplies. He tells me his pants are too short, and he definitely needs new sneakers. Luckily, he can wear shorts until he comes home to visit in October. After all, it won’t be that cold on campus until then….
It is an exciting time for these college freshmen. They are going off on a great adventure, and they are, quite rightfully, excited. And I am excited for my son. But I have other feelings, as well. Even though this is a great step in his life, I know that there will be times when he feels like he is in the wrong place. When he thinks he has made the worst decision of his life. When he is deeply lonely. And I recognize that these are all necessary feelings and experiences as he navigates the waters of life and of grows into adulthood. But I am his mother.
So, there are some things I wish he didn’t have to go through. I wish he didn’t have to question his decisions, experience loneliness and homesickness, navigate the challenges of being away from home, and wonder if he would be better off somewhere else, but not really know where. If I could, I would guarantee him a life of smooth sailing and unbridled excellence. But what kind of life would that be? Certainly not one of growth and ever expanding maturity.
So I will send him off as prepared as possible to tackle the things life throws at him. Today, I am packing up a box of medical supplies, simple things like bandaids, cough drops, pain relievers, and a thermometer to get him through the bumps and bruises of the next four years. These things are minor, but they are things he would have readily available here at home. Hopefully, when he is feeling down and not his best, he will open the box and realize that even though I am several towns away, I am still caring for him, supporting him, and loving him.
And hopefully, he will remember that I am only a phone call (text, email, whatever) away. If he needs me, I will always be here.