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  • Writer's pictureMaria A. Mansfield

When It’s College Move In Day!

When we imagine how a particular situation might play out in reality, we might think we're ahead of the game because we've considered the variables and possibilities that could play out. Then the day arrives, except that most of our planned course of action doesn't pan out. Has this happened to you, too?

Last May, when our youngest graduated High School, I caught a glimpse of how it would look in August when he went off to College. How in less than three months, he would be starting off his adult life. I was pondering on all the ways he had matured by showing responsibility and a strong work ethic.

During this past summer, I tried to be mindful of spending quality family time, apart from getting everything he needed for College and working on a photo album I wanted him to have for when he left. I knew August was approaching fast, so when I scanned my thoughts about a week ago, I was sure I had wrapped them neatly with a bow -just to be emotionally ready.

Disclaimer: I live with three guys. My sons have often warned me: "Ma, please don't make this a thing." Basically, they were saying: "don't rain on my parade!" So I was mindful not to embarrass or put my son down in any way. I promised myself I would be fine. -Why do we do this again?

Friday was Move-In Day. My husband packed everything neatly into the truck. As we drove off, I felt confident. We were all set. We had a two-hour car drive to his College. When we got there, my son unpacked all his stuff into his dorm, then we all revisited the Campus, had lunch in their recently built cafeteria and even shopped for a couple of things he needed. We spent most of the day together. We took a few pictures and laughed together, knowing all the while we would have to say goodbye soon.

So what I had initially played out in my mind wasn't what actually happened. -Shocker! The vulnerability of that last hug packed more emotions than what I had ball-parked. I think it's always the case. My son gave us all a tight hug. When it was my turn, I smiled through happy tears, and then we all said goodbye, the best way we knew how. I was quiet on my way home. I gave myself the grace to feel the departure, and at the same time, acknowledge how proud I am of him moving forwards.

Fortunately, I've been learning about being vulnerable. Apparently, it's the highest level of courage. To show ourselves just as we are. I hadn't planned on crying, but the emotion called for it. I hadn't realized how hard it would be -yet it was. Just having that openness to let the moment override the plan was actually a gift to my son and to me. Of course, he knows I love him and that I would miss him. Now, he understands I adore him, and I'll miss him every day.

Sometimes we fear taking down the defenses we've put in place so carefully, so that we don't get hurt, or disappointed. But the ones we love the most don't love our mask, they love us. My son taught me yesterday that what we think would be so terrible about being vulnerable is actually a way of communicating on a deeper level how much we care and love others. He said to me just before I walked away: "It's OK, Ma, I'll be fine."

As a family, we're confident our son will strive in College. He'll figure out all the new things he'll be doing and learn the tools that will prepare him for life.

My prayer for him is that as he seeks knowledge, he will also get to know more about himself. As he explores change through new experiences and friends, he will also be aware of the changes taking place in his life. And as he pursues new horizons, he will be wise to find out his purpose for this time and ways he can help others.

Last but never least, that he will know that maybe the best thing we could ever give him after all, was a strong sense of family, intercultural learning opportunities and meaningful conversations around the kitchen table. I’m sure some of these “gifts” might have helped shape who he is today.

I believe the future is still bright for our Freshmen -even in a Pandemic. We wish you all the best until we see each other soon!

Maria A. Mansfield, PRS

Author: “Life is Worth Getting Better”

“Honoring Your Recovery” and “Tu vida merece que te mejores”


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