By Alison Perelman, Assistant Culture Editor
Half of room 369 in Havighurst Hall is already moved in and set up. Lauren Stifelman moves around the other half, making sure the bed is made and in the best spot. Her husband, Glen, and son, Matthew shuffle around, finding other productive things to do.
“This is our last one and we’re probably gonna have to peel her off of him when we leave,” Glen explains with a chuckle.
“He’s our youngest. It’s very, very difficult. He’s ultra-independent, so — excuse me,” Lauren interrupts herself and Matthew moves out of the way. “Although, I am doing this for him ‘cause I’m very anal. So it’s even harder ‘cause he can do it on his own.”
She continues to make the bed — one last motherly act.
The Stifelmans are from Long Island, New York, an 11-hour drive. Their older daughter went to college much closer to home, so this is a whole new experience.
“We knew we had somebody at home, so we still had another child, you know,” Lauren says. “So it’s kinda different. You knew you were coming home and you still had a full house. But I always knew I had Matthew at home and now there’s nobody else.”
“Excuse me, there’s still somebody else at home,” Glen says, offended.
Leaving Matthew and going home to an empty nest will be the hardest part.
“Don’t make me cry now,” Lauren says, trying not to think of the moment when she’ll have to say goodbye.
But they know he chose a good school and are excited for what’s to come.
“I think he picked the right school for himself. I think he’ll be very happy here,” Glen says. “There will always be times when he has trouble. Maybe if he was a little closer I’d feel a little bit better, but I don’t feel uncomfortable leaving him here.”
“I am so super excited for him and I think this is gonna be like the start of all new wonderful things for him,” Lauren says proudly. “But I will miss him, a lot. So he’s gotta call a lot, or Facetime, something — text! But I’m excited for him and I can’t wait to hear all the great things he’s doing.”
Julia Burkholder moved in to Emerson Hall on Wednesday, August 26. Her roommate’s parents helped unload, but then left her family alone to set everything up. Julia did most of everything herself, letting her dad help with the technical stuff.
Her parents, Trish and Jim, were a little in denial.
“[It] does still feel like it’s the Orientation we had before and the other visits to campus,” Jim said.
“You think, ‘Oh, it’s temporary,’” Trish added.
This was an especially hard time for the Burkholders because Julia is their first and only child that they sent off to college.
“It’s a big transition,” Jim said.
“It’s gonna be a big change. It’s a change for her, change for us,” Trish continued. “Every parent who’s here, though, no matter if it’s their first kid or second or third, everybody kinda feels it. As the parents pass each other, you just see that look of it. You acknowledge with each other silently that we’re all here.”
The next day, Trish and Jim went back to Julia’s dorm to drop some items off that they had picked up at the store for her. Trish wore her brand new “Miami Mom” shirt so she could get a picture with Julia. Jim had worn his the day before.
And then it was time to say goodbye.
They gave big, tight hugs and offered last minute advice.
“Just, you know, have fun and enjoy it and make the most of the next four years. Meet new people and get out there,” Jim said to her.
“Don’t sit in your room, you get out there and have fun. Go do those welcome activities. And we’re here if you need us…We’re a phone call away,” Trish said.
They gave Julia another big hug before she walked back inside to find her roommate and then go off to buy books. Then when they turned toward the car, Trish started to cry, but didn’t want Julia to know.
“It’s a big moment, but it’s a very special moment. So, of course I cried,” Trish said. “And I will again.”
Email Alison Perelman at firstname.lastname@example.org