Well today started out bright and early. The hubby and I were headed to the school of Doc's dreams, to "springboard" into the college experience with her, our eldest!
First of all I wonder, "Am I really old enough to have a child that is going to college?" Well yes, yes I am! Secondly I wondered about this university. With all the choices for higher education out there, we really stood back and let our eldest apply to, any and all schools of her choosing.
We tried to stay out of the mix, knowing that if she was accepted to schools that she was interested in, the chances of her actually attending classes and doing well would significantly increase!
Graduation was a great opportunity to beam with pride as I watched my eldest take yet another step towards becoming a wonderful, independent young woman. It was a chance to reflect, and laugh and cry. It was also a great opportunity to throw a BIG party! However in the midst of all that, I still did not really grasp the next stage, or the "big deal" about what is lying around the corner. In my mind, while it was the next logical step, I was concerned because I was not stressed about it or overly concerned per say.
College. Acceptance to her "dream" school. A new mailing address. Independent thinking. Making decisions without my input or insight or years of wisdom. (insert chuckle here) Was I as ready for this as I thought I was? Was Doc ready for this stage in life?
So backing up to our departure time for this "springboard" event...
4:45 am is a great time to go for a run, but not such a great time to go from lying down to sitting in a car for 2 1/2 hours... so I after some chatter, I find a semi- comfortable position in my seat and proceed to do what every good and concerned mother would do in this situation.... catch up on some sleep!
Now keep in mind this is my first trip to the university. Doc and her father have traveled this road together before, frankly on the way to many a vacation spots over the years, I have also traveled this road, however the purpose of this trip down 81 was to stop off and visit "our dream school" ...not continue on to another destination.
So off to sleep I go as slight and delicate snores coming from myself in the backseat (so I was informed) I wake just in time to change into my "walking" shoes, arriving in the parking lot of the university refreshed and in need of coffee at about 7:45 am. As we enter the parking lot we are greeted by a purple cheer-er... okay so there really is a name for them, they are OPA's - and throughout the day I would see many of these young adults in purple cheering us on to our next location, encouraging us with kind words, asking us if we needed assistance... as I begin to wonder, "Will Doc become one of these purple people in years to come?"
We are almost immediately split off from our first born. She is headed to do student registration and we are headed in the opposite direction for parent registration. We meet again to be herded into the auditorium for some combined welcoming information and a basic overview of the day.
So far my view of the campus has been limited, as has been my interaction with the the people other than other parents and the purple cheer squad. Yet I still am at peace. I feel comfortable. I think I like it here. The walk in from the parking lot was nice and scenic, but somewhat limited, and with a speed walker as a husband and an anxious child, there really was not time for taking in the beauty around me, that would just have to wait.
As far as I was able to capture in my time standing in the very long line to use the ladies restroom during breaks, this university prides itself on friendliness, and integrating the families and students into the fold as quickly as possible, and I don't just mean, writing the checks for tuition. Many of the "seasoned" moms in line stated that other universities just mailed details to their home for their student, there was no formal information day like this event, that here at this university, they went above and beyond what was expected to make sure everyone, parent and students, felt welcomed, informed and encouraged. We heard from an assortment of administration heads, and even the president of the university himself, regarding ways to be involved, the services at the school for us and our students. We got to eat lunch in the dining hall, that by the way is ranked #3 in the nation according to the Princeton review... and talk to staff and administrators in any area of the school where we were needing additional direction or assistance figuring things out.
Now being that this was my first experience at said university, really any university in over 20 years, I would say that I was significantly impressed! Once I was able to make it outside for a walk on the campus with my "sweet" tea, ( until that moment I forgot that I was down south!) I was able to see the beauty of this fully mature, well manicured, well maintained campus. No wonder Doc fell in love with it so many years ago! It really felt like an extension of home.
It would be an understatement to say that it was a long day. Six hours sitting in a car - 7 hours sitting in meetings is a lot of sitting for such a beautiful day as yesterday. But the trip was such a blessing to this mom. My soul is at peace, not only about the choice that my daughter has made, and may I say, all by herself, but also in the location, the facilities, the administration and staff, the fellow students....and the fact that she is ready for this new stage in her life!
But more importantly, I don't have to feel guilty about NOT being anxious or concerned about her being ready for this transition now that I fully grasp and understand it ! As I indicated, earlier my sleep on the way to the campus, was born out of comfort knowing that Doc is prepared, socially, academically, spiritually for this next phase in her life.
The day just secured those facts in my mind as well as a few others that I had been thinking but was hesitant to say out loud for fear of sounding harsh and unkind. But thanks to the purple OPA's I feel free to express even these thougths in love and with a smile to my adult daughter as she heads out to university:
No, I will not send money - You should get a job!
No, you do not need your car - take the free bus that runs on and off campus!
I am sorry you don't feel well, have you tried washing your sheets?
It was great to hear over and over again that there is no room at this campus for helicopter parents! That I do not need to feel guilty because I am not overly anxious, or concerned about how Doc will manage without me, because she is doing that already.
I am proud of her and of the young woman that we have raised. Here is a cheer to the future!