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To All Of The Crying Moms On College Move-In Day

To All Of The Crying Moms On College Move-In Day

Well Mom, here we are. Today is the day, I suppose… Finally we find ourselves in the moment we have both been waiting for all our lives. (The day that up until this very moment has only been referred to as “someday”.) My college move-in day.

I sit behind you and Dad in the familiar family car- the same beloved SUV that caravaned my brother, sister and me to countless school play dates and lacrosse practices. As Dad steers us closer to the cluster of families unloading laundry baskets and Easy Mac boxes, I unfasten my seat belt. It isn’t easy to tell if you’re crying, but I have a feeling. I know you.

I inch forward in the back seat and wrap my arms around you, hugging you from behind, my chin against your car headrest. I glance up at the enormous brick, industrial-like dorm building that will serve as my home for the next year (at least). The large building casts a cool shade over the dewy grass of the late morning. As we lurch forward haphazardly onto the grassy mound behind several other parked cars, the knot in my stomach tightens. I have been expecting this day to come for years, and now that it is finally here, I am overcome with mixed emotions.


How can I accurately express to you how I feel when I am not so sure myself? There is only so much time to put fresh sheets on an unfamiliar bed and install Microsoft Word on my new computer, let alone converse all of my feelings with you here…in a strange new place…next to thousands of strangers. Like the last chapter of a page-turning mystery novel, I want this time together to last forever as much as I want to get it over with. (Please don’t take it personally.)

You read my mind (like you are so good at doing) and ask me if I’m OK, to which I reply “yes” with a prompt downward nod and a short smile. I begin to pretend to study IKEA instructions. (I rarely lie to you, but sometimes a little white lie is necessary.) Truthfully? Truthfully, everything is not OK. In fact, everything feels extremely surreal. It is as if time is obsolete and I am right back to where we started, transformed into memories that have not resurfaced for a long time until now.

Memories from way back when I was in Montessori school- trudging along behind you, a fistful of your silky floor-length skirt in my hand, my red canvas school bag whacking alongside me with each step. I would cry, kick, fight and scream, and then in a flash you would be gone (never without a hug and kiss). You would head off to work at your full time job even though you probably already had a hell of a morning coercing me into our weekly morning routine. How you never managed to doze off behind the wheel is beyond me. Wish we could say the same for Dad…


With great relief it occurs to me that even though I was just three years old and my memory of Montessori school is quite shaky, I am certainly still alive and here today-happy and healthy as can be. So it can’t be all that bad, right?

Look, Mom- I am not saying it’s going to be easy- for either you or me. I know it doesn’t matter that I am 18 and not three years old anymore, I know it doesn’t matter that you know I am an independent, capable, and personable young adult. It makes complete sense to me that despite all of this, your maternal desire to take me in your arms and protect me from any of the “naughty” or “mean” kids is instinctual. I understand that you will worry about whether or not I am eating right, getting enough sleep, and meeting new friends.

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I suppose the hardest part for you is simply letting me go, thus creating a separation between us. I assume the most difficult aspect is not being able to remain in control of my care and happiness. This all makes sense to me now, and I can empathize with you on that. But it is my time now to take care of myself and maintain my own happiness. It can’t be your responsibility (full-time responsibility anyway) forever, that wouldn’t be too good for me in the long run…

No, I wouldn’t say that right now everything feels OK. But Mom, the truth is- everything will be OK. Everything will be more than OK. Everything will be just as it’s meant to be. I have come to terms with this and I repeat it over and over in my head- a silent mantra as I unpack my bedding from the trunk of our car.

I glance up once more at the foreboding shadow of the dorm and despite my anxieties, I have to smile. We’ve been here before, Mom. We got this.


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