Before and above anything else, you should know what a joy and privilege it is to be your mom, and to have raised you to this point. I have not been a perfect mom, but I have loved you every moment of this first part of our journey as mother and daughter, and felt the endless blessing of your life in mine.
I have told you all of these things before and I know you were listening, even when you didn’t seem to be. Still, I will tell them to you again here, for old times’ sake. After all, we are closing a chapter, you and me, and I know best how to mark time with words. This way, for our next ‘chapter,’ we will know where we left off.
While you’re in college, learn a lot about something that leads to work, so that you will always be able to earn a living and fend for yourself financially if you need to, and even if you don’t.
When you date, practice being the kind of partner who will bring out the best in your mate, and let the best show in you, so that if and when you choose, you can have the joy of abiding and passionate love that you deserve.
Make your own mistakes, but please try to skip the ones I have already made. I only left you a few, so choose yours wisely.
Stay aware of your surroundings at all times, and please eat the occasional vegetable.
Know that your bed and your room will always be here for you, but please leave it clean next week when you go, so that when I look in, I won’t have the familiar wave of irritation, unmitigated by the funny faces you make as you sit on your bed and feign homework, or look shocked at my threats to send in OSHA.
Don’t accept any drinks or anything else from anyone that you didn’t make yourself, because you don’t know what’s in them. Take no chances here. Don’t ever mix alcohol and driving, or I’ll kill you my damned self.
Study hard and know that we are working our buns off to give you this opportunity. Respect that, as I know you always have, but get out there and have fun too, making new friends and memories that will last your long, long lifetime.
Don’t worry if you get homesick, and don’t worry if you don’t. It’s all good, and normal.
Promise me you will look in the mirror every day and see yourself as I see you- sparkling and radiant, chock full of the gifts of this life, including your talents, your giant heart, quick wit, and the smarts you’ve worked so hard to cultivate. Put them to work, and be exactly ‘the kind of person you want to be.’
When you were a baby, and during many key moments throughout your life, I told you, “some things will change, and some things will stay the same.” This is especially true now. You will make a new home at college, with your room-mates, and friends. And, you will always have your home with us, the same as you left it, busy, noisy, funny and full of love for you.
Our family is changing. When you leave, there will be an empty space that only you can fill. We will ‘save your spot,’ so that when you come home, you can wriggle right back into the place that is perfectly and forever yours.
Our relationship is changing. We have become friends in some ways that we were not when you were little, and we are coming to know each other as grown women. That will grow as you need less and less ‘parenting,’ but know this: There are times in every woman’s life when she just needs her mama. You will always have this from me, as long as I am breathing.
I will always be here for you, when you need me and when you don’t.
So, farewell my sweetheart, go out and do great things, and let the love every member of this family has for you carry you forward and remind you to use the courage you already have to be nothing more, and nothing less, than exactly and perfectly YOU!
How are you saying good-bye to your college-bound kid? Deb and I want to know!
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Remember: Lower the bar, and drop the guilt (today).
This blog was originally published by the Times Union and can be accessed here.