Sometimes you just have to write…
My daughter just received her International Baccalaureate exam results, and she’s more than met the conditions for admission to her university of choice. Her high school career is over. She went off to Greece for 10 days with a couple of friends, came home for a few days, and then went off to Texel, one of the Wadden islands, for a summer job waiting tables. In September, she’ll be off to the University of Northampton, in England.
This all makes me think about my mother and the years when I was, like my daughter now, almost an adult, trying to prove I was an adult, and gradually separating myself from my family.
I didn’t actually go away without my parents until I went to college, and the college was less than an hour away from my hometown. My mother, whom I called Ma, worried about everything: the safety of the student housing, the suitability of my roommates, the quality of the food in the dining hall, and so on. (My father just checked for fire escapes.) and she didn’t just worry; she expressed her worries. I did a lot of rolling my eyes and telling her what she wanted to hear: that I would call if I had a problem, that my suitemates were great (they were), that the food was surprisingly good (it was), that the housing was safe (it was, relatively speaking) and that I would remember to lock the door (I did).
I, on the other hand, simply could not understand what she was so worried about. I was quite sure I could take care of myself, and my biggest worry was that I hadn’t moved far enough away, so that she might visit unannounced. Before accepting admission to college, I made her and my father both promise always to call before a visit.
I realize now that I was right. I could take care of myself, and I would have asked for help if I ever needed it.
I also realize now that Ma understood that. Her expression of her fears was real, and came from her heart, but her head knew perfectly well I was going to thrive at college. That’s exactly how I feel now: terrified for my daughter, yet also confident that she’ll love it.
She’s a sensible, deep-thinking adult. More sensible, and probably more deep-thinking, than I was at the time. She makes friends easily, but also chooses them carefully. She doesn’t get pushed into doing things she doesn’t want to do. She sets goals and works toward them, though she has the same trouble with motivation and procrastination that I still struggle with. Her self-confidence level varies, as does mine.
Actually, now that I type this, I realize how much she resembles me. And I thrived in college, so why am I worried?
Because she may be just like me, but I am just like my mother. Now if I can just keep those ‘Ma moments’ under control, I’ll be fine. And so will she.