It may sound harsh, but it was time for me to travel back to school on my own and leave my mom behind. The trip back to school at Western Illinois University after summer vacation always brings a mix of feelings. This year was different because my parents and siblings didn’t tag along.

My boyfriend, John, and I drove ourselves back to school for senior year. I honestly never thought about the trip back without my mom until I was already on my way and realized this trip felt unfamiliar. 

I think that my mom not driving me back is a taste of what our lives will hold in the near future.

I was looking forward to traveling to Macomb just the two of us; I had been anticipating it since the beginning of August. We’ve traveled these roads countless times, but this time I was a little sad. It was my last trip back after a summer break and our first night back would be without our families eating pizza at Aurelio’s.  

One of the highlights of the drive back is a sign posted outside of the Galesburg Prison that reads “Don’t Pick up Hitchhikers.” When I traveled with my mom, she and I would always laugh as we drove by that sign and say of course we wouldn’t pick up any hitchhikers.  I realized that I wouldn’t have her to help me unload all my stuff and she wouldn’t be leaving me here to go back to the Chicago suburbs. We wouldn’t say goodbye in Macomb, instead I would call her once I got back. John and I felt weird not having our families with us, especially our moms, but this was a symbol of independence for us, which I’m sure they’re proud of.

A few days have gone by and I’m still adjusting, trying to get into school mode. I don’t regret going back to school without my mom, mainly because I’m 21 and don’t need her in the way I once did.  My first year at college, I cried for about two months straight because I wasn’t adjusting. Every time I would hear my mom’s voice the tears would burst out of my eyes. Now I think back and laugh about how pathetic I was.

I know I have grown into an adult and I take things as they come. I feel that if something out of the ordinary occurs, the best thing to do is to stay positive and realize that I can get through any dilemma.  

For moms and kids who are about to embark on a new chapter in your life, make it a tradition to have your mom take you to school and be a part of the new college experience. The tradition lasted three years for us.

I could tell my mom was sad when I was leaving my house, but this was something I needed to do without my parents’ help. Parents are going to have difficulty letting go. It’s a fact of life and I think that my mom not driving me back is a taste of what our lives will hold in the near future.