by Amy Ruhlin
I had the privilege of
touring college campuses last week with my teenage son. I didn’t see it this
way at first; in fact, I thought it was a dreadful way to spend spring break. I
know I’m not suppose to think that, or God forbid, say it, since touring
colleges with your kids is de rigueur these days. But I missed our
spring trips when the children were small and their laughter filled the car on
long drives to the beach, or when we shared the thrill of riding the same
roller coaster over and over again at Disney World. I wanted those days to last
forever and I wasn't looking forward to this spring break since we had to do
something so responsible and serious.
I wanted my flip flops and
my silly hat and my kids not caring what I looked like or how I acted. Instead,
I had to wear sensible mom clothes and I could tell that my son was a little
concerned about being seen with his fifty-something parents on hip college campuses. I promised I'd try really hard not to embarrass him and I hid my tears
knowing that the days of my kids thinking that I’m wonderful are over.
The first tour was a college located in the center of a large city. I was expecting lots of concrete and a
boring tour guide. Instead, I was surrounded by stunning architecture and magnificent trees as we were led through campus by a third-year student with an exuberance that I had long forgotten. She was thrilled
with her school, excited for her future, and happy to share it all with us. The
campus brimmed with activity as students walked to class and laughed in coffee
shops, and my son was gleefully taking it all in. I have to admit, it gave
Disney World a run for its money and the campus bookstore even sold silly
hats, though no Mickey ears.
The next stop was
a University in a rural area with rolling hills and trees draped in Spanish moss. Students
jogged alongside a winding river and bicycles were everywhere. I had forgotten that
college campuses are so fully alive and the excitement I saw in my son's eyes
was as beautiful a sight as any ocean.
Although I’ve tried to make a smooth transition from young mother to older mom, it’s mostly been a bumpy ride. It is difficult for me to leave behind sand castles and amusement parks and young children who give spontaneous bear hugs. The teenage years don't serve up quite the same offerings.
But the feelings that I
remember from past spring breaks were there with me on college campuses last
week: the thrill of change, the pleasure of new surroundings, the joy of seeing
my child experience something new.
I learned that if I can
just let go and follow the thread that is our lives, nothing really is
left behind. It’s all still here, only in different forms.
I even managed to keep my
promise and not embarrass my son. And I
think that just may make me wonderful still.