Off to College: The Moment We Have Been Preparing for our Son’s Entire Life

Today is the day. We have been planning for it for over two years, beginning in my son’s junior year in high school when we toured local and in-state colleges, when he took ACT prep courses and AP classes, participated in extracurricular activities, solicited recommendation letters and completed all those college applications.

It was almost all-consuming, until this May when he finally made his decision to attend a college a two-hour plane ride away. Then, reality set in and we began to plan. Shopping, sorting clothes, packing, making travel plans.

We are on an early morning flight, bound for Portland, Oregon to move my son into college. It takes three parents to do this—his dad, his step-dad and I. I am almost sure my son will have the most parents to move him into a dorm suite he will share with three other young men.

college student
We have been preparing for this moment for my son’s entire life. (Twenty20 @ravenvincent)

I Remember When My Son Was a Little Boy

With all those parents and four students in one single room it’s sure to be crowded. Never mind that despite all my planning, late night packing and barely sleeping, I almost missed the flight because we left too late from the house.

Perhaps I was delaying the inevitable? My husband and I made our flight without a moment to spare. My son had arrived at the airport with his dad and was already seated on the plane. We found our seats next to my son, and directly in front of his dad. It’s kind of strange to be traveling all together like this. But then again, it isn’t. I know that all of us who have played a role in getting to this moment, would not want to miss this for anything.

As I settle into my seat and calm my racing heart I hear the voice of a little boy in front of me. From the space between the seats I can see he has strawberry blonde hair. The passenger seated beside the boy engages him in a conversation. From the sound of the boy’s voice I guess him to be about 4 years-old. He is talking about Mickey and Minnie Mouse and coloring in a Disney coloring book.

All of a sudden I am transported back to a time when I would sit with my own sweet 4 year-old blond-haired son, and read, over and over again, the story of the Tonka Rescue Helicopter. I close my eyes and try to recall the sound of my 4 year-old son’s voice, but I can’t. I promise myself that soon I will convert all those video cassettes with countless recorded memories into a digital format, so I can actually watch them and hear my son’s 4 year-old voice.

I look over and see my son, headphones in place, eyes closed and realize this is the same boy who I read to all those years ago. Then it occurs to me, it’s not. He’s a young man, ready to embark on a wonderful, challenging and exciting adventure—without me. Good for him. He really is ready. I, on the other hand, may not be. I feel like it is too soon for me.

For all the challenges that I have been through with my other teens, this son has been easy. He’s not perfect, but he has been a joy to raise. He is thoughtful, funny, sensitive, bright, kind and good. I don’t want college to change that. As much as I know college will challenge him to think and experience beyond the familiar, I hope that the values we have tried to impart to him will sustain him. I keep thinking there must be more I can tell him, share with him some wisdom to prepare him, but I know there is nothing else to say right now.

Ready or not, here we are, taxiing the runway, cruising through the skies, launching this young man into a life away from his family. It occurs to me that his father, step-father and I did not begin this process only two years ago. We have been preparing for this moment our son’s entire life.

I look over at him, sleeping. He looks peaceful, and calm, prepared for what is ahead. Emotions overtake me and even though I try, I cannot keep my eyes from welling up with tears. I use a cocktail napkin to dry my eyes because I don’t want him to see me crying.  He already knows this transition will be difficult for me, and I don’t want to make it more worse for him.

Composed, I look over at him and he groggily opens his eyes. I smile at him, and he gives me a slight grin. As he turns away to drift off to sleep, I know that even though I am sad to see him leave, I am deeply, truly excited for him. Maybe that means that I am ready too.

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Headshot Diana Mejia

Diana Meija is a mid-life mom and step-mom to four amazing humans. She works full-time in criminal law so she probably has some good stories in her, but her favorite stories to share involve every day life in her blended family. She blogs at Life Well Blended and you can find her on Instagram and Twitter @Blendermami.

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