Reflections Upon Sending Our Sixth Child Off to College

Shayla (and Sam) in front of the Portland Temple
Age 7

Last week I met up with Shayla at the Salt Lake City airport. She came from Washington where she has spent the summer restoring a car with her Grandpa Gale. I came from Connecticut where I have spent the summer packing and then unpacking boxes and trying to make order out of the chaos--whilst enjoying the comings and goings of adorable grandchildren and their parents. Siara picked us up and we enjoyed that sweet mother/daughter/sister rhythm that we fall into so naturally. (We had that last month when Shayla and Shanna were both in Connecticut--I just need to hang in there 'til Christmas and we will all be together.)

We were there to get Shayla settled into her new life as a freshman at the BYU. Yes, our little Shayla is off to college. Keeping up with family tradition, I helped her move in and get her books and various supplies and necessities to make sure she was covered for the duration. Siara took time off of work to help and she had the added benefit of the wisdom and inside information on how to survive dorm life and homework and the like. She also shared her expert hairstyling skills and gave us both amazing haircuts. She and Tyler shared their hospitality with us and put us up in the Christensen Bed and Breakfast: A homey and comfortable place which includes an entertaining cat named Wolfie and delicious toast made from Dave's Killer Bread. (I am starting a campaign to get it into the Costco here!)

Spencer is between semesters and took time from his busy schedule of sleeping in and watching Fox News to give Shayla a personalized guided tour of campus. He is majoring in Chemical Engineering and she is majoring in Mechanical Engineering so he has the expertise to share on all things science and engineering. His wife Adrianna and I tagged along and  we exchanged baffled looks as Spencer and Shayla talked about chemistry and economics and physics  like they were enjoyable pastimes they happened to have in common.

It was a short trip and my 48 hours flew by before I knew it. I hugged my little girl good-bye and left her at the tiny dorm that will be her home for the next 9 months. We got a bit teary-eyed but I managed to hold back the full flood of mom tears until Siara and I started down the stairs. It doesn't matter how many times  I send  a child off on that first step of the journey to adulthood, it doesn't get any easier.  I am thrilled for the opportunities that are ahead for her. I am proud of her for doing the work and preparation intellectually and spiritually that got her to BYU. So the tears may be a little bit of sadness for me letting her go but they are more of happiness in knowing she is in a good place.


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