Dropping off my daughter, Mailey, at California State University, Monterey Bay was a proud but painful experience.
August 18th, we began our emotional five and a half hour drive to Seaside, California, Maiely’s new home away from home for the next few years.
We moved Mailey into her single dorm room the following day and worked hard to make it feel cozy and bright. It was important to us to give her a space that she would feel happy in. The better the room looked the easier it became for me to bare the thought of leaving her there. Most importantly, Mailey’s sadness started to disappear as the room started coming together.
The next day, the family celebrated Mailey’s achievement with a nice dinner in Monterey. Mailey sat at the head of the table, and each time I looked over to her, emotions filled me. I couldn’t believe the reason we were there. Overjoyed, succumbed by happiness, proudest moment, none of these completely define the warmth I felt in my heart for all that Mailey had already accomplished.
Then, the next day rolled around, and the morning was quiet. After 18 plus years of living at home, it was time to say goodbye. Every moment that I’ve shared with Mailey laughing, running errands, listening to her stories, fighting, scolding her, hugging her, kissing her, guiding her played in my mind non-stop. And every single one of those moments that I was recollecting was important, every moment had been a small piece of the puzzle to getting to where we were, CSUMB. Our goodbye was painful. Our last hug that day was one full of love, and I’m going to miss you. It took a lot of strength but I trusted my daughter to God, and we were off.
I cried for about an hour non-stop on our way home and then on and off throughout our drive. Mailey cried for about five minutes and then she was okay. It made me laugh when I heard this. I’ve always said that no matter where my kids are, if they are happy, then I am happy. So knowing that she had pieced herself together quickly made me happy.
Why All the Fuss?
Going to college is a huge accomplishment. And when I think of Mailey’s upbringing, of how untraditional it was and how hard it was at times, it just adds to the proudness I feel.
One, I had Mailey when I was 18 years old. I knew then that Mailey would not follow down the same path. I raised Mailey with a one track mind, and that was “education is key.” I devoted my time to her, providing for her, getting her into a good school district, loving her unconditionally, sharing my personal wrongs so she’d learn from them, and teaching her to take opportunities and enjoy the current moment. And unexpectedly through all of that, I gained a best friend.
Two, Mailey’s dad and I broke up when she was six years old. She struggled with both of us moving on and building different families. The two families learned to put Mailey before any petty business and through it all, we became great friends, and we became a family. So Mailey grew up with double the love.
Three, Mailey is the second to go to college in our immediate family, so this college stuff is new to us. For Mailey to accomplish going to college without having had parents she could turn to for first hand experience and advice is admirable.
Finally, she chose to leave her home and explore a new place with new people which shows amazing strength and courage. As a Latina, it isn’t the norm to leave your house before you even marry and although I didn’t raise Mailey the traditional way, it’s still an amazing thing for me to witness. My strong, intelligent, beautiful Latina daughter going away to college is still something I marvel over. I shouldn’t, because we worked so hard to get her here, yet it seems like it came out of nowhere, one minute she’s at home, and now she’s gone and fending for herself.
I’m happy and a bit surprised that she is doing “amazingly” well. I knew something in her would awaken while she was away. A certain independence that every mother wants to see in her daughter because it will empower her. But what Mailey has shown me in just three weeks, surpasses what I’d hoped from her. While she is struggling with being homesick, she’s immersing herself in the college life by attending events, meeting new people, embracing why she’s there (an education/incredible experience), and she is demonstrating an unbelievable level of responsibility. Mailey’s progress in three weeks indicates to me that she’ll do great.
Monica Luna Gonzalez
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