Last month, my son came to me and said he wanted to transfer to a different college. He had done his homework. He had done research on the new school. He came to the conclusion that he truly wasn’t happy at his current university (W.U.) and wanted to go to P.U. in NYC.
We went through several rounds of ups and downs and downs and ups. First, came the rants that “I was an unsupportive mother.” That hit at my core (no wonder my yoga practice was suffering with my core under stress.) Next came the anger that I wasn’t taking him seriously. (My son D is always full of ideas. He actually has a more creative side than my daughter A. Naturally, I believe he gets his creative juices from my side of the family.) And finally, came the motherly breakdown (or the giving in stage of the process where he wore me down and I said I would agree to be a more supportive mother and listen to his P.U. proposal.)
“Okay, okay,” I finally said one day a few weeks ago. “If you are truly unhappy and you do all the work, I will go to NYC with you and see the school and assess the program. While I agreed to this venture, I knew in the back of my mind that my answer was going to be “no.” I did not give him the benefit of the doubt. In fact, at the time, I was almost 90 percent set against such a move.
And then two weeks ago, he got accepted to P.U. While I went into the process doubting that this was a good change, overtime, my doubts began to subside. “Was I not giving my son the benefit of the doubt?” (No, absolutely not – he was guilty and wrong until proven innocent.) “Was I not trusting his judgement on this school? (No, absolutely not, how could D, at 19 years old, know what was best for him. He hadn’t gone through enough experiences in life to know if this move was a good one or not.)
Then there were all the specific doubts, like how much was this school in the BIG CITY going to cost?
I doubted that they would accept many of his freshman credits. (I definitely doubted they would take all his credits and therefore, it would likely take longer than 4 years for him to graduate.)
I doubted the curriculum for P. U’s hospitality program. (He will have to get a business degree not a hospitality degree. How could this program be better?)
I doubted he would get housing as a transfer student. (Would he get a dorm room in the BIG CITY, especially as an upperclassman?)
Despite my many doubts. I decided to join him for a tour of the school and meetings with the various school administrators. The decision for Fall 2009 was fast approaching.
So, last week, D and I jumped on the train to NYC. He scheduled the tour. He found the directions via subway (I was so proud of him.)
“Yes, we will take all his credits and there is still room in the upperclassmen dorms,” said the nice admissions counselor. (No doubt there anymore.)
“Yes, we have a small wonderful hospitality program and your son will gain lots of contacts in the industry. One of the core courses is taught by a leader from the Marriott Marquis and we do require internships too,” advised the head of the hospitality program. She seemed quite knowledgeable. (Again, another doubt had diminished.)
“No we won’t give your son any additional financial aid, but he is getting a significant grant,” said the financial aid advisor. (It is still going to be more expensive, but how much is my son’s happiness worth. I guess as a mother you could say it is priceless.)
“Do you still really want to do this?,” I asked D as we left P.U. and headed uptown to the train station home to N.J. (We stopped at the Momofuku Noodle Bar in the East Village between 10th and 11th Streets for lunch. It was sooooo good…very interesting ramen noodles. I highly recommend it.)
“I do, I do,” said D with a big smile. His face lit up. He was excited about making the change. He was courageous about making the change. He seemed fearless about making the change.
I thought about how much D has changed during this past year at W.U. I’ve always worried about him, but I realized that while he still has a lot more growing up ahead of him, he is ready for the BIG CITY change.
In some ways, I think it is me, his 50+ year old mother, who still has more letting go to do. Yes, all my doubts were satisfied during our visit to P.U. last week and it is now time for me to give the final ‘go ahead” and release D to the BIG CITY.
“I do hope he remembers all the steps to complete the process for his admissions,” I thought to myself yesterday as he began to fill out the acceptance forms. (Okay, I could not let go just yet. So, I wrote down all the steps he needed to take and told him to check them off – one by one. I wrote the steps – but it was his job to execute. And he did.)
Come September, my son D heads off to the BIG CITY (not too far from his sister A.) As for me, I’m sure I will learn to adjust and adapt to this new change. (I hope he will still answer the phone when I call him from Southern New Jersey to ask him how to turn on the DVD in my bedroom so I can watch a Blockbuster movie.)
I’m happy for him and very proud of him. It’s not easy to say your college choice the first time around may not have been the right choice. For that matter, it is not easy at any age, to admit you’re unhappy and have the courage to make a change – especially when your unsupportive mother is not giving you the benefit of the doubt. But he did it.
I’m impressed with his readiness and eagerness to embrace the newness of it all. I have no doubt he is up for the change. But, what about me? Am I ready for the next phase of emptynesterness? I’m going to give myself the benefit of the doubt and say ‘yes.’
Come September, I will ride through the narrow streets of Chinatown again, like I did two years ago when I moved my daughter A into the summer dorms at NYU. I will deliver my son to his new crib in the BIG CITY. And then I will drive away, knowing that he will be okay and so will I.