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Start of college a transition time for family members

By: Carol Feineman, Editor
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My daughter’s going to be fine. And I’m going to be fine. Last Thursday, hours before we boarded a Sacramento plane Michigan-bound, Kim voiced her concerns about leaving California and starting graduate school. Her move meant she was starting over: furnishing an apartment, meeting new friends, adapting to a school schedule after working for five years in four continents. After Kim expressed her concerns, I wanted to roll back the years and hold her tight, promising to keep her always happy. I realize my daughter and I aren’t the only ones in the Lincoln area, or any city in the world for that matter, going through this scenario. This month, many parents are watching their children pack for college. It’s one of the hardest and at the same time, proudest milestones we experience with our children. Both we, the parents, and our children will get through this separation. I know firsthand. Kim and I went through these feelings of anxiety and missing each other the first time nine years ago when I drove Kim to the University of California at Berkeley for her first semester of college. Fast forward nine years as she begins the master’s of business administration program at the University of Michigan and I’m again experiencing those same emotions. I should be used to Kim’s time away from home. Her job with Google took her to Poland and Singapore for a year at a time. But the feelings we’re both experiencing now are just as real nine years later. I frequently remind myself Kim has good values. She has turned into a more compassionate and caring daughter/ granddaughter/sister and even boss in her post-Berkeley schooling than I ever imagined possible. We want our children to succeed and have the best possible opportunities in their work and personal lives. So while I’ll miss Kim terribly as she pursues her long-held dream of grad school, I’m also very excited she will begin her studies within days at an internationally high-ranked MBA program. She has worked so hard for this moment and she deserves this chance to take several giant steps in her short but already successful business career. In the meantime, I’ll treasure our IMs, e-mails and phone calls as Kim describes what she’s doing in her classes midway across the country. In addition, I’ll think happy thoughts for my daughter’s future as I also look forward to the next holiday or summer vacation we can spend together. No matter what age our children are, we want the best for them. Even if it means we have to let go of them. Parents can also grow during this time. My ex-husband and I helped Kim buy apartment supplies and groceries, and then clean up the place, this past weekend. We also checked out the campus with her and did some sightseeing in between. The three of us laughed Sunday as her father was leaving for the airport and we reminisced about Kim’s first day in Berkeley. On that day, my ex-husband and I were both emotional that Kim was no longer our “baby.” We acted on those emotions by screaming at each other. I can still visualize Kim’s extreme embarrassment as she ran away from us into her Berkeley dorm but I can’t even remember what my ex-husband and I fought about. This time, my ex-husband and I put Kim first 100 percent of the time and enjoyed each other’s company. It’s almost fall. I saw several trees with leaves that turned red this past weekend in Ann Arbor. That’s the universal signal, of course, for the change in seasons just as it’s the seasonal time for children to return to school and reach their goals. It’s the natural cycle of life to eagerly accept and, better yet, want for our children. Carol Feineman can be reached at carolf@goldcountrymedia.com.