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Bringing My Daughter to College

Updated on April 6, 2017
My daughter on move in day at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA. ( this was also her 18th birthday!)
My daughter on move in day at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA. ( this was also her 18th birthday!) | Source

My daughter is a Freshman at Drexel University

Yesterday I brought my daughter Michaela to Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to start her college experience. Philadelphia is 4 1/2 hours from our home in Connecticut. I was proud of myself for not crying when I left her, but I did notice I had a hard time stopping the hugs! I am so proud of my daughter who has grown from a tiny baby of 6 pounds 10 oz. 18 years ago, into the beautiful, talented and vivacious young woman she is today.

On September 20th, 1994, I gave birth to twin baby girls. I had always wanted twins, and they do run in my family, but I never believed I would be blessed enough to have them. When the ultrasound technician told us we were having twins, tears poured down my face because I realized what a blessing I had been given. From the start of the first few kicks in utero, I realized that this child, "Baby A" as they called her, was going to be a challenge. She was so active and kicked so much I was concerned about the challenges she would present after she made her entrance into the world. This was a big contrast from her sister, who was very quiet and rarely kicked. I found myself praying that God would bless my relationship with her, and give me the strength to have a close bond with her and to never give up on her in spite of the challenges she presented. Once she was born, true to form, she gave us a run for the money. She cried often, wanted to nurse often ( yes I did nurse my twins!) and was miserable and cranky unless I was around to hold her or nurse her. As she grew into the toddler stage, she began to talk...all the time. She asked questions or made comments about everything around her. It was tiring, but I tried to have patience and answer her questions and hold conversations with her. And she developed a stage where she did not like babies, including any children who were younger than her, and would physically push them out of her way! I remembered my prayers and asked for strength more than once! But as she grew and entered school, things began to change. She was extremely curious about the world around her and loved school. She developed a habit of loving to read and to watch TV. At first, I was concerned about the TV habit. I was especially concerned when she began to be able to recite television advertisements word for word in elementary school! When I suggested she not watch television as much, she reminded me that her grades were excellent and stated that watching TV helped her relax. At times she would spout off facts that were pretty impressive and when I asked where she had learned that, she told me from a TV show. So, I backed off on my request.

As she entered middle school, she found she had a talent for and love of cross country running. She found running helped center her mind, and I supported her in this endeavor. By eighth grade though, she began complaining that she ached a lot. Especially after running. Her pediatrician thought it was a relapse of the Lyme Disease she had had a few years earlier and treated her for that illness with antibiotics. At 15, and by that time, a high school sophomore, she was so sore one November day, that the pediatrician looked at her swollen knees, and diagnosed her with arthritis. One trip to the Children's Hospital later, the diagnosis was confirmed: Michaela had Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. I was heartbroken. It did not run in our family, but here was my beautiful young daughter, afflicted with a terribly painful disease that could cripple her in later years. But Michaela was much less bothered by it than I was. In spite of sore joints which included her knees, hips, and jaw, she continued to run on not only the cross country team but the indoor and outdoor track teams as well. She did get hurt, and would sometimes have to end her seasons early and be in a boot, use crutches or have to go for physical therapy. She never gave up and competed in running sports through out high school. And along with her determination to run, was her determination to excel academically. She took the hardest classes she could, always challenging herself with the goal of getting into a good college. She graduated 10th in her class of 570, with an ending cumulative grade point average of 4.17.


I had been encouraging her to major in a subject in college that she enjoyed and was passionate about. Throughout her first three years of high school, she didn't have any clue what she wanted to major in and steadfastly refused to allow me to put pressure on her to decide until she knew what it was in her heart. Being the director of the Career Center at her high school, it was hard for me to back off and let her do this at her pace, but I did my best to respect her wishes. In her senior year of high school, she declared that she knew what she wanted to major in at college: Television and Screenwriting. And of course, it made perfect sense for her to choose these subjects as the basis of her college studies. This young girl who had learned so much and enjoyed the medium of television throughout her formative years will go on to hopefully make her mark on the television industry and help others learn as she did.

Over the last two years, Michaela and I visited many colleges, some close, some rather far from home. Her wish list for a college included being in a city, at least two hours from home, having a good television program, and being a large school. We had some wonderful bonding experiences on car trips to Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New York, and New Hampshire. When all was said and done, Drexel University won out. Not only did they give her a fantastic renewable scholarship, but they have both a television and screenwriting major, and a co-op program which will give her six months of paid experience in the field of television in her junior year. And, of course, it's in a large city.

I have had my concerns over the past few months about her going off to college. Like any parent, there is concern about this new chapter in their child's life. But as I have watched her grow, I have noticed that she has an insatiable desire to be the best she can be at anything she attempts. I have watched her bond with her friends, and be a caring, thoughtful, intelligent young woman of integrity. I have done my best to support her, given her roots, and helped her grow the wings she needs to fly off into adulthood. And I know now that the signs of concern I observed, even when she was a baby, was just her trait of knowing how to get her needs met to become the person she was destined to be. My girl has guts and determination to conquer anything in her path, and I know she will be a successful college student. I also know that should she need extra support, Philadelphia is just a 4 1/2 hour train ride away!

Michaela ( R) with her  twin sister Morgan at 9 months. Even then she had a sparkle in her eye!
Michaela ( R) with her twin sister Morgan at 9 months. Even then she had a sparkle in her eye! | Source
Michaela running in a cross country race in high school.
Michaela running in a cross country race in high school. | Source
Michaela and I on graduation day!
Michaela and I on graduation day!
My daughter and I on move in day at college. Sad but happy day as well.
My daughter and I on move in day at college. Sad but happy day as well. | Source

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    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Such a fantastic and endearing ode to a beautiful daughter such as Michaela. Your journey was a joy to read and follow along with.

      I also send my sincerest of prayers to Michaela for dealing with Rheumatoid Arthritis. I have a dear friend who suffers with this.

      Your beautiful babies are a joy and it sounds as if they are returning the joy ten fold!

      Blessing and I'm voting up across the board.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      Great story..Did her sister join her in college or did I miss something. She is obviously an talented and driven young lady. Obviously you were and are a wonderful mother.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      I remember how I cried when I took my son to preschool, let alone college. It is a big day for parents and teens when this time comes. The emotional mix is high. You have a great daughter, be proud! She will do fine and God will watch over supply her needs. Beautiful sharing from your heart.

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Karen, ah, wow, this story really hit home with me. As you may know, my wife and I recently sent our daughter off to Cambodia where she will be a student missionary, along with another young woman, teaching grammar school and high school students English and math. I could thus totally relate with all the feelings a parent experiences--the joy and pride; the bittersweet nostalgia with the memories of the past 18 (or 20) years flashing through your mind; the key and challenging moments of hard-to-swallow news; the catch in your throat upon seeing your little one overcome hardships...sometimes failing...but never giving up!

      I used to run (you'd never think that now because I look like I manage the local donut shop)...and each run was like a metaphor for life in general...so much pain to deal with on all kinds of levels, and yet, there's that incredible high of floating, almost flying...a fraction of each stride, one's body is completely unattached to the ground. I didn't really think this was the case until I saw a photo someone took of me once, and I was completely off the ground. Anyway, I gulped when I read the part about how your daughter continued running even after being diagnosed with JRA. She runs not only because she enjoys it. She runs because she has to...She's a scrapper, that one, and she'll definitely accomplish whatever she sets her mind on.

      Just like you...when you see the open spaces on the screen in front of you...and you do that certain Karen magic as you weave yet another beautiful Hub for the rest of us to enjoy.

      God bless you and your family. You're a wonderful neighbor to have here on HP, Karen, and I'm proud to be along for the ride.

    • Craig Hartranft profile image

      Craig Hartranft 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Very personal article. Obviously your pride, love and affection for your daughter comes through. Hope to see an article like this on the other side of the four college years. Cute photos, too.

    • Karen Hellier profile image
      Author

      Karen Hellier 4 years ago from Georgia

      shiningirisheyes,

      Thanks so much for your comment. And for your prayers for her. She can use them. She just started a new medication because the arthritis eroding her jaw. She can't open her mouth more than halfway, and it is so sad. yet she's determined to love with what she has been given, and doesn't want anyone to treat her any differently. For a mom, that's hard to watch, but I admire her all the more for it. She is a blessing to me.

    • Karen Hellier profile image
      Author

      Karen Hellier 4 years ago from Georgia

      carol7777,

      No, you didn't miss anything! Her sister is much more introverted and is planning to take classes at the local community college and is working. Thanks for the vote of confidence in my mothering skills!

    • Karen Hellier profile image
      Author

      Karen Hellier 4 years ago from Georgia

      teaches12345,

      Thanks. I need God to watch over her more than ever now because obviously it's much harder for me to do so now from a few states away! Thanks for your kind comment.

    • Karen Hellier profile image
      Author

      Karen Hellier 4 years ago from Georgia

      hawaiianodysseus,

      I can see your sense of humor even in your comments! You are so funny. That must have been quite a picture of you with your feet off the ground. Do you still have it? It would be a great metaphor for a hub, with the picture as a visual. I didn't realize your daughter was going as a missionary to Cambodia. You must be so proud of her. That's a wonderful legacy to your parenting. I hope someday one of my 3 children will do something as noble! You are so sweet...thanks for the "Karen magic" comment. Right back at ya in terms of good neighbors here at HP...you are the same!

    • Karen Hellier profile image
      Author

      Karen Hellier 4 years ago from Georgia

      Craig Hartranft,

      Such a great idea...I will keep that in mind in 4 years when my daughter graduates from Drexel and write a hub about it!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      I thought my son was going to UC Berkeley, which was just across the bay. Little did I know he was really off to Montana. It was a well orchestrated secret only he and my wife knew. I and my daughter didn't find out till that week. I was devastated!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      What a delightful hub from birth to college. Sending a child away, even when its to college, is a difficult task even though we know its for the best. You've written a heartwarming and wise hub about the whole process. Good luck to your daughter, hope to see her name on a TV show in the future!

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • Karen Hellier profile image
      Author

      Karen Hellier 4 years ago from Georgia

      Mhatter99,

      Wow, that must have been devastating. I am sure that must have caused a bit of tension between you and your wife? Hopefully it all worked out well and your son is flourishing in Montana.

    • Karen Hellier profile image
      Author

      Karen Hellier 4 years ago from Georgia

      tillsontitan,

      Thanks for your kind comment. Yes, we do hope to see her name on TV show credits someday. I am sure she will be successful though because she is so determined. I miss her, but this is a good step for her.

    • glassvisage profile image

      glassvisage 4 years ago from Northern California

      This is a lovely story. Thank you for sharing this and best of luck to Michaela (I always loved that name :) My parents had a worse time dropping me off at college than I did going, or at least I'm assuming because my dad cried, and he never cries! But I hope it's worth it now that I have a college degree and am making enough money so that I can buy them better gifts at Christmas... :D

    • Karen Hellier profile image
      Author

      Karen Hellier 4 years ago from Georgia

      glassvisage,

      That's so cute about your being able to buy your parents better Christmas gifts. Yes, it sounds like if your Dad cried, he had a tough time.I totally expected to cry but just got a bit misty eyed. I am so excited for Michaela to have this chance to experience a life outside of her hometown and the fact that Drexel offers what she wanted in a college experience, that I think my excitement for her tempered my tears! There was a lonely tug on my heart as I walked away toward the parking lot though. I am happy to say she is doing well 2 weeks in. And likes Drexel more than she even expected to. That's always nice for a parent to hear! Thanks for your comment and congrats on your college degree!

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