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Advice for a College Bound Daughter…From 50 Years Ago

I have the letter my mom wrote to me and left under my pillow that first night in my college dorm room after the family had moved me in, hugged me goodbye and driven away.

I gave it to my daughter the day she moved into her college dorm room….only I handed it to her and told her to read it after I’d left for home. I will give it to my son’s daughters when they’re off on their own; and hopefully my daughter will give it to hers when the time comes. It is the kind of letter that says exactly what every girl needs to read, to know and to feel at this moment in time….and my Mom said it best.

Mom and I saying goodbye as I start my freshman year.

Mom and I saying goodbye as I start my freshman year.

I was off to Western Michigan University to become a teacher in the fall of 1962.  Just 18, the oldest child of four including the ‘little kids’ ages 3 and 5; moving two hours away from my Detroit home to live and learn in Kalamazoo was a big deal! Mom depended on me, so letting me go was hard for her. She knew I was excited and we’d had all the talks; but mostly….she understood this was a great leap of faith and growth for me.

Her letter was perfect comfort and confidence in knowing I’d be okay.

 

letter-to-a-college-student-1962

(letter continued) for you and D, K and B. Maybe we haven’t always done things wisely, but all that we have done is because of our great love for you kids. Looking back, there were things that would have made your life happier, I’m sure, but you have had a wonderful life as it is. Do you understand what I’m trying to say my darling? I believe with all my heart that you’re going to do wonderful things someday and you will learn best by living the best life that you can.
 Joanie, you are going to run into many different kinds of situations and temptations of which you have no knowledge; but we have enough faith and love in you to know that you can and will handle them all to the best of your ability. Remember time and again of why you are and where you are, and what it means to all of us. We will miss you, but if you are happy then we won’t mind so much.
Do what is right for you; weigh your decisions, then be happy with your choice in what ever you do. Pray to God each night Joanie, and give thanks for everything as I pray each night thanking him for giving you to us. We are very proud of you and know you will do everything to make us keep on being so proud.  We are always here whenever you need us.
                           Goodnight my darling, sleep tight and give thanks.
                                                         All my love always,
                                                                Mother

In just two more years my oldest granddaughter will head to college; I’m confident these words….with her name inserted…..will be just as appropriate and meaningful as it was for me fifty years ago.

Read more from Joan Stommen on her blog, Gramcracker Crumbs

Joan Stommen

I am a teacher, mom and grandmother of five. I retired after 33 years in education to help care for my mother AND my daughter's new twins! I write about families, education, fitness, aging gracefully and the bits and pieces of my life. Becoming a widow has given me another platform on which to share my thoughts and feelings. Over the years I've written for newspapers, taught writing skills to college students, classroom teachers and children of all ages. My blog posts have been featured on More Magazine's online site as well as other blogs. I enjoy Zumba, hiking, scrapbooking, reading, subbing and learning to cook! In addition to drafting my parents' love story and my memoirs, I'm looking for a writing coach position.

Joan Stommen

Sunday 10th of August 2014

Your words really touched me Mary.....knowing you have college age girls. But the life long message is what makes this important too. I like to think I've lived my life the way my mom hoped when she wrote this.

Mary Lanzavecchia

Sunday 10th of August 2014

Oh, Joan, What a wonderful memory and legacy you have shared. Your mom's words touched me so deeply, both as a daughter and as the mother to two daughter's of her own. With C preparing to head back for her 3rd year, I needed to read this, for your mom's words extend far beyond the college years; her wisdom will carry echoes well into the empty nest years as my children make their way into the world. Thank you so much for sharing this.

Joan Stommen

Thursday 7th of August 2014

Oh how wonderful to know it meant something to you,Claudia! Best wishes to your daughter and lots of hugs and faith to you, Mom!

Claudia Schmidt

Thursday 7th of August 2014

I'll be taking my daughter to college in late August, so this letter is particularly relateable to me right now. A beautiful sentiment!

Suzanne Fluhr

Thursday 7th of August 2014

So lovely and so timeless.

Joan Stommen

Thursday 7th of August 2014

Thanks for your kind words, Suzanne!

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