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Bringing humor to the many challenges of parenting, driving a gigantic SUV full of smelly boys and their friends, letting go of the idea of perfection and tackling middle age all serve as my inspiration. We all have common experiences, I just share my take on the absurdity of every... Read more

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Days 5&6: A Letter from a College Freshman to His Family

Writing 1As a writer, you hope to inspire others through words. As a mother, you hope to inspire your kids to be better people. This one time, I managed to do both.

My son wrote this to us before he left after reading my letter to siblings last week. He was hoping it would be shared because he thinks most kids feel this way but don’t convey it.

He is helping me out as I am not ready to put move-in day into words yet. So this will stand in its stead:

The words “John MacKinley Stiles” echoed throughout the spacious church as I maneuvered up the main aisle to get my diploma. I remember grasping it in my hand and thinking this is the happiest I have ever been in my life. As soon as I reached my seat, there was a change. All other sounds in the Church muted as a switch flipped in my head.

There was only one thing I could think about; moving to college and more importantly—freedom. My mind immediately switched gears from high school to college. The excitement was overwhelming with college occupying my thoughts day and night as the August 14th move-in day moved closer and closer.

There I was two nights before move in day relaxing in bed and about to fall asleep when the soft and fuzzy feeling previously associated with leaving suddenly disappeared. My mind flooded with all the change I was about to encounter and people that would be left behind. No one warned me about this strong and overpowering sensation. It hit me like a tidal wave, drowning me in thoughts and memories, I found it easiest to grasp and process them by putting them into words.

Mom and Dad
Today must be one of the hardest days of your lives. I promise you everything will be ok. You’ve spent 17 years, 10 months and 29 days instilling values in me that I will never forget. The time you spent repeating yourself over and over has paid off. I am taking your lessons with me to college to mold myself into a better person; the person you raised me to be.

But it’s time to let go.

You have to trust that I can hold my own. It’s no different that learning to walk or ride a bike. You held my hand and showed me the way. The first couple of times, I may have come back bruised and bloodied with tears streaming down my cheeks, but I learned. And today is no different. You’re sending me off knowing that I’ll hit some bumps in the road and face obstacles that seem impossible to overcome. I will still need you to show me the way every once in a while, even if it’s through a phone call or text I value your input. Eventually, just like walking or biking, I will learn and find my way myself.

I love you both more than words can describe and will be forever indebted to you for what you have given me physically, mentally and emotionally. All of my achievements root back to the two of you and even if I might not show it at the time, I’m extremely grateful. I may be moving out from under your roof at home, but I will always be under the roof of your heart.

Drew and Reed
past presentBoys, I will miss you both more than I can convey. You are my two best friends in the world and I’ll never forget the memories we’ve made growing up with each other. It’s never a dull moment when the three of us are together and I cherish that. Whether it’s walking Murphy at night, blaring music all over the neighborhood as we drive or just playing PS3 and laughing, I always have a blast. Take your school work seriously but allow time for fun in high school too. Both of you are incredibly gifted and you’ll soon learn what those gifts are and be able to truly embrace them. Try not to worry too much either. Worrying is a waste of time. If it already happened, you can’t change it. Just forget about it and use your mistakes to grow and learn. You know my favorite saying, “Let the past drive the present.”

Look out and care for one another. It’s important for both of you to know that I am so incredibly proud to call you my brothers and I wouldn’t trade you for anything in the world. Sometimes we bicker and fight, but we’re always able to laugh it off right away and get back to normal. You both are exceeding expectation left and right and nothing makes me happier. I love you both immensely and can’t wait to hear about your adventures while I’m gone.

I think you’re going to take this the hardest. It’s easy for the rest of us to understand what’s going on because we communicate with each other. However, you will just see us pack up the car with a lot of my stuff, then have everyone else come home but me. I don’t know what I’m going to do without you running in and jumping on my bed to lay with me. I always felt that you understood me and we were pretty similar even though you’re a dog and I’m human. Orhan Pamuk once said, “Dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen.” I find that pretty accurate. I’m always your listening buddy. I’ll be back soon and I can’t wait to see you in my bed, tail wagging a hundred miles per hour, exactly how I left you.

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Maureen Stiles

About Maureen Stiles

Maureen is the author of the blog Magnificence in the Mundane. You can read her monthly column at The Town Courier.


2 Responses to “Days 5&6: A Letter from a College Freshman to His Family”

  1. On August 23, 2016 at 7:09 am responded with... #

    Maureen I just read your sons letter and I am beyond tears.What a beautiful human soul, you and your husband have raised. How very proud you must be.
    Our son leaves on Friday, he is the baby of 4, the last to leave the nest. And, as you already know yourself, the feeling of loss is overwhelming. But, after reading your sons beautiful letter, I somehow feel a little less overwhelmed by his words, and I just wanted to thank him from the bottom of my heart.
    Kathleen Jensen, Ct.

    • Maureen Stiles
      On August 23, 2016 at 9:34 am responded with... #

      Kathleen, thank you for taking the time to write this. Your response was exactly why my son asked me to share his letter. He was just so sure that other kids felt this confidence and gratitude he thought it would help for other parents to read it. Good luck with your “baby” and enjoy that empty nest. I am sure it is an adjustment but you’ve earned this time!

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