I remember my first day of college as if it happened
only last week. The fluorescent lights
of the hallway leading to the classroom made me feel exposed and vulnerable. I closed my eyes for a moment and took a deep
breath, drawing in a scent of new books mixed with old wood and a trace of all
who had come before me. I can feel the
butterflies in my stomach as the classroom door came into sight,
and I still don’t know if they were there because of tattered nerves or from pure
excitement. I settled into the third desk from the back on the left side of the room before I allowed myself to glance to the front of
the room for my first peek at the instructor.
Dr. McCormick was a middle aged man with a friendly face that put me at
ease enough to scan the rest of the room.
Most of the other students appeared as apprehensive about the moment as
I, which made me more comfortable. My nerves settled, and I began to feel something else.
It was a mixture of relief and joy that I was finally sitting in my
first college class. I was living the
dream I’d carried for two years as I worked forty hours a week in a clothing
factory to pay for the car that would grant me the freedom to make it to this
Today is that first day for Patrick. When I started homeschooling my kids eleven
years ago, I could not fathom the thought of making it to this point. Like with every stage of life, I felt as if I
would be teaching them forever.
years ago, when Madison started college, I had to learn to let her go. I feared failure on my part in preparing her
for what was to come. Reluctantly, I did
let her go, and she grew into a strong, independent young woman.
Now I must do the same for Patrick and, on
top of that, learn to live without him in our home. Moving him into his dorm room opened up a vault
of nostalgia for me. I remember clearly
the day I moved into my first dorm.
Coming from another town two years after all of my high school
classmates started college, I was on my own.
I loaded everything that was precious and needed into my car and said
goodbye to the small town in my rear view mirror. I fell into the dorm community and college with
ease and fell in love with my new life.
This is what I hope for Patrick, even though his is not as complete a break
from home as my own. I’m looking forward
to watching him evolve into what I have always known he would become—an independent,
confident young man with goals and the courage to pursue them.
I have always believed that, when the time came for
my first child to move out, I would be able to endure it if I had no regrets
looking back. I can say with no
reservations that I have no regrets where any of my children are concerned. I have enjoyed them to the fullest and
appreciated every moment with the knowledge that, while I felt I would have
them here forever, they would eventually leave.
Having sisters with children older than my own helped me gain this
perspective, and I am thankful for that.
Still, on quiet nights when all of the distractions of the day have
quieted, I allow my mind to wander to those places that take hold of my heart
and tug. I fall asleep in a mangled web
of sadness, joy, pain, and accomplishment but never regret. I wake the next morning with my eyes forward. Everything in my past has prepared me for
this moment, and it is in this moment that life is real.