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The college send-off: life doesn't wait for you to be ready

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My oldest daughter will go to college in 3 years. I know, I know, it is a bit early to be stressing about this transition, but I can’t help but feel like time is flying by just a little too quickly. You see, my daughter Molly has always been just a few years behind her beloved cousin Gabby. As Gabby has transitioned from toddler to tween to full-fledged adult status, I have had the luxury of previewing the ever-changing stages of parenthood. When Gabby clung to that binky for dear life at 4-years-old, I observed and took notes on all the parenting hacks my sister employed to rip that thing from her grip for life. When middle school hit, I watched in awe as my sister threw the best parties and the most fun sleepovers, and I vowed to be just as great of a mother as my sister was. I learned from her mistakes and cherished her devotion to being the best mom she could possibly be.

And now, here we are, sending Gabby off to college, and I am feeling all the feels. My sister did it! She completed all the stages and she did it with grace, courage, strength and a youthful heart. She has raised a beautiful (inside and out) daughter, who is ready to flee the nest and share her sense of humor, kindness, and loving heart with all those she encounters at Arizona State University.

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And we (me and my 3 kids) are preparing for life without Gabby close by. “Thanksgiving is going to suck without Gabby, moooom,” my kids say as they try to make sense of life minus one of their favorite people. “Can we have one more sleepover with Gabby before she goes? Pretty please?” They adore their older cousin and even though we know she will be back, life will be just a little bit different while she is gone. I can’t help but wish I could stop time, right here and now, forever. I am not ready to give Gabrielle a hug and say "good luck in college." Maybe it’s because I suck at goodbyes. Or maybe it’s because I have yet to tell her how much she means to me and my kids. Perhaps it is because I know that one day all-too-soon it will be my oldest saying goodbye; and then I just can’t.

And so, as we count down the days before she boards the plane and starts the next phase of her life, I send her off with a few, important things that I think all college kids should have as they start their college years.

Words of Wisdom

College will bring you all sort of challenges- academic, romantic and ethical. Whatever life throws at you, trust that there is no wrong answer. You got this. When in doubt, simply ask yourself this one question: "what is the right thing to do?" And then, do it. And when all else fails, cue a little Tim McGraw:

Hold the door, say please, say thank you don't steal, don't cheat, and don't lie. I know you got mountains to climb but always stay humble and kind. When those dreams you're dreamin' come to you, when the work you put in is realized, let yourself feel the pride, but always stay humble and kind.

Make your bed once in a while and call home every day (okay, fine, every other day). And please, do your mom a favor and turn off your Snapmap. This woman needs to sleep once in a while!

Dorm Essentials

You’ve got your comforter and towels and maybe some new clothes packed and ready to go, but I have a few extra things for you. Number one? Safety first, of course. And yes, they make a kit for that. Amazon sells a College Safety Kit complete with pepper spray, flashlight, and an emergency whistle all packaged in an adorable bag labelled bag of courage. Always better safe than sorry and this gift may even help you sleep a little better at night, too. Keep this kit close by at all times and be sure to travel with friends nearby at night!

Roommates are like a box of chocolates: you never know what you are going to get. So, I send you off with a great pair of headphones from Wicked Audio. When the dorm is too loud or your roommate wants to talk and you just want to escape, slip on your new Hum 1000 wireless Active Noise cancelling headphones and play that funky music, white girl. It is no flight back home, but it will do the trick and offer you’re a temporary escape from socialization and the gift of music to lift your mood.

The time will come (maybe sooner than you think) when you are struck by the homesick bug. You will miss your mother’s home-cooking (or pizza-ordering) and you will want nothing more than to go sit next to her on the couch and just chill. Here is what you need to do: call her, talk about it and light your homesick Connecticut candle and don’t be afraid to cry your eyes out. It will get better- I promise.

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A great, big thank you

It is long overdue, but they say better late than never. Thank you, Gabrielle, for being you. Thank you for being there for my kids during the rough times when I just wasn’t. Thank you for showing up and making them laugh when their lives were just a little too tough. Thank you for sharing your mom with my kids selflessly, for the hours of triller-making in North Carolina, for Irish Step Dancing parties and countless sleep-overs and who can forget Club CK? We are not ready to send you off just yet, but life doesn’t wait for us to be ready.

Pack your bags and buckle-up for the ride of your life! Know that you are appreciated, you are loved and though you may be far from home, you are never alone. We just may have to bring you in on Facetime this Thanksgiving to ask you what you are grateful for.

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