Last weekend was Friends and Family Weekend at Mt. Holyoke. I came up on Tuesday and spent a few days with Leigh, then she dropped me off on campus on Thursday night. I came bearing warm clothes, replacement supplies, and Friendly’s ice cream. Aubrey gave Leigh and Bill huge hugs, and ignored me for a few minutes. Once they left, though, she started talking a mile a minute as she ate her ice cream. Once she polished it off, we went up the hill to Blanchard Student Center where she introduced me to several of her friends.
The shy, quiet, somewhat intimidated little girl was gone. As we walked through the halls and across campus, there were constant waves and cries of, “Hi Aubrey!” I settled in to observe her interactions, and I was thrilled to see her confidently playing pool, laughing and joking with everyone. We talked between her shots, and I was ever more impressed with how she has evolved in the seven weeks since she got here. She has developed a sense of self, and self-confidence, that she did not have before Mt. Holyoke. I warmed with the knowledge that I was completely right in my belief that this is where she belongs.
Everyone was extremely friendly to me, except for her roommate, who is barely civil to both of us. It doesn’t bother Aubrey, since they are rarely in the same room and awake at the same time, but I had wished her first college roommate would be a best friend for life. It’s okay, because I think she is making plenty of other best friends for life.
Her first few weeks here were a major adjustment as she had to break years of habit and call her teachers by their first names. Today, she started talking about Stan’s dog, which had me somewhat confused, until I asked and she explained that Stan is her biology teacher (and I’ve noticed, her biggest fan). Hopefully Stan will supervise a small research project that will mean she will get to be home for January, and will help to ensure she gets a good internship in the summer.
Gone is the toddler screaming, “ME do it!” Instead, here is this amazing young woman who discusses her course options with me as we talk about her future plans, where she wants to go, what she intends to do after college. For the first time, she values my opinion openly, instead of telling me I suck while secretly following my suggestions. Strangely enough, that gives me the mom-fidence to step back a little further and let her decide without my normal feeling of panic that *I* know best. I feel like she’s hearing me, considering my arguments, and then deciding for herself, which is as adult as a person can get.
Other than a few instances of not very well hidden snobbery, most of the girls on campus are warm, friendly, accepting, and SMART. Most of them do not judge each other by what they are wearing (as evidenced by some of the outfits I have seen these last four days), nor do they judge religion, sexual orientation, or political views. I have overheard some brilliant conversations, including one young woman who read aloud to her friends her response to a school newspaper article on the possibility of MHC becoming co-ed.
I rest confident that Aubrey is being challenged academically, supported emotionally, and loved unconditionally. Her teachers gently prod her along into thinking deeper and more expansively. Because she doesn’t really have grades, I have enjoyed the opportunity to read her papers and see their comments. Ever the proud mom, I beamed when her English teacher praised her writing, as well as her personal development experience about which she wrote. Her writing has become more intellectual, much clearer, less wispy and childish.
As I cherish the next six days that I get to spend with her, I know that should anything happen to me during any of my upcoming surgeries, I have been successful in my job. I have raised a truly beautiful, wise, and wonderous creature who loves learning for it’s own sake, and makes friends as easily as cupcakes.
“There’s something about you now
I can’t quite figure out
Everything she does is beautiful
Everything she does is right”