“College Bound” – by Lily Maino, M.S.

This Thursday my son, Matt, and I fly back East to look at colleges. I am excited about our trip and looking forward to this one-on-one time, as it is rare in our family of 6 to get individual time with my kiddos. But he is not a kiddo anymore. He is more grown up at 17 years old than I was at 30. This will be our last mother-son adventure before he leaves home.


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I keep thinking he’s going to have a great time away at college BUT he can’t leave home, I’ll miss him too much. The running joke in our house (though it is not funny at all) is that we are looking at these out of state colleges just to make him happy but he is actually going to go to college 3 miles from home at CSU.
 
I can’t bare the idea of not seeing him every day. For the past 17 years, he has been my constant. I have experienced changes in my marriages, in my career, moved across country three times, have lost loved ones, and given birth to three more children. Matt has been there through all those changes. I have talked to him every single day for the past 17 years. I have grown up with him.
 
I am not ready for this change. I know that he will do fine. I am not worried about him at all. He is mature, loving, strong, compassionate, thoughtful, and emotionally stable. He is my Buddha. So, I know that he will have his bumps and scrapes while away at college, but that he will thrive in any environment. I, on the other hand, might not do so well. And what about the rest of my family?  Matt’s younger sisters and brother adore him and are always happy to have their older brother’s attention. We will all miss him.
 
Actually on his first day of kindergarten I remember thinking that someday his first day of school wouldn’t include running into my arms and telling me all about what he’d learned. I have known this day was coming and yet I am still not ready. It’s not about “letting go”; it’s about the loss of him in my/our daily life.


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Today I realize that as he ventures off to college, his absence will change our family. And though I will happy for him and so proud to see him head into adulthood – our family dynamics will never be the same. His sister won’t smile when he hands her a new book that he’s just finished or when he says, “Hey Bug, don’t smile.”  And his little brother won’t ask him to ride bikes in the driveway and then ask him, “Matt, where are your training wheels?” And when his littlest sister twirls in her tutu, her big brother won’t be there to tell her,  “You’re so pretty!” To which, she beams.
 
Since there is no manual for parenting and I feel like I am in uncharted water, I am doing what I know how to do. I am making a conscious effort to cherish every moment with him, to hug him often, to accept my own feelings, and to be present as we go through this process of change.
 
– by Lily Maino, M.S.
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