Until my son entered college, I had not realized how much I missed my college days. I mean, I hadn’t even kept in touch with college friends until the advent of Facebook. I occasionally reminisced, but didn’t actually feel the pangs of missing those dear friends or the life I had lived. I had carefully deposited those memories in my mind, and only revisited on rare occasions. After receiving two degrees, I guess I had only given credit to the feelings of relief that I had accomplished my goals, and had been grateful to just move on with life. College had merely been a very important stepping stone. No looking back.
As the countdown to my son’s freshman move-in day began, I admit that I went a little crazy with preparations. Unlike my teenage son, I was ga ga over the adventure that he was about to begin. I bought dorm room bedding and decor, school supplies, clothes for every possible occasion, toiletries, and a supply of medicine (for when Mom couldn’t be there to help). I bought him the biggest refrigerator allowed in a dorm room, and stocked it with everything I thought a student athlete could possibly need or want. Well, I’m sure it was occasionally stocked with other items that a Mom doesn’t really want to know about, but I tried not to think about that.
As I unpacked my son’s things, I couldn’t help but wish that I could go back and be the 18-year-old me. I began to recall the excitement that I had felt in 1986, moving into my dorm room at Henderson State University. Like my son, my first dorm room was a temporary residence, until I was able to move into the dorm what would be my permanent home away from home. I lived in Holly Hall for 4 wonderful years, surrounded by sorority sisters from all over Arkansas and a few other states.
I strolled around my old familiar campus, recognizing most of the buildings, and exploring the newer ones that had been constructed after my graduation. Did my son comprehend how these buildings would forever be a part of him? Or was I the only sentimental one who felt this way? I couldn’t help but sing the alma mater as I walked along the paths that I had once taken to class, the library, fine arts building, cafeteria, student union, etc. I was pretty sure that he wasn’t going to appreciate the many trees that were planted to honor students who died fighting for our country. When I tried to explain the significance of the trees, the iron fence, the “proposal bench”, and other historical features and traditions, I could see my son beginning to zone out.
College meant something totally different to my son. It held no sentimental value. This nostalgia was just bouncing off the top of his head as I shared it with him. He was there for baseball, parties, and girls. I have to admit that I enjoyed the parties in my day, but I didn’t really want to share the extent of my extracurricular life with him yet. Not yet.
I lingered as long as possible, hoping I wasn’t going to be the helicopter parent that all of the latest blogs were warning us not to be. You know… THAT parent. I had to let go, and return to reality. I had to face the fact that I was a college mom, not an 18-year-old sorority girl anymore. It was time for my son and his new friends to start creating their own memories mixed with old HSU traditions and some brand new ones. And it was time for me to go home.