I admit I had never heard of Bates College until my daughter told me it was on the list of liberal arts schools she was aiming for over 4 years ago. She was accepted into other schools that I would have preferred in terms of perceived opportunities and experience offered, as well as a distance that would be more manageable for visits.
As I sit here reflecting on what my daughter’s four years at Bates has been like, I am flooded with memories and hopes and surprises that fill my heart and soul. I’ve been known to say that she came out of my womb itching to go to college and it seemed to me that all the choices she made growing up were geared and directed toward that singular goal of getting to that magical place she spoke of wistfully, College.
So when it came time to apply and test and visit it was filled with a remarkable aura of intensity. I admit I was disappointed initially with her choice, and that disappointment was reinforced when I first drove through Lewiston, Maine to get to the campus. It was a cloudy day and the area seemed to lack the life I had imagined would surround my only child’s dream destination. Yet as time went on I grew to see the beauty and wisdom in her choice. Bates has esteem and character and warmth that fosters pride and belonging. They took care of her in ways I could never have imagined, and in turn she gave back more than I thought possible.
One of the last weekends of my mother’s life was spent at Bates’ Parent’s weekend in 2013, and during that glorious fall event we shared the joy of seeing her granddaughter begin to blossom and fit into the Bates family. The attention that was paid to offering students the opportunity to explore how they wanted to be in the world seemed extraordinary. I watched my daughter change majors and minors and finally land on the path she has firmly set her sights upon, with a resume I never imagined a college student could accrue. She has already lined up her dream job, which all but promises to deliver her directly to graduate school and the academic research position she covets.
So what this upcoming Commencement Weekend means to me is an opportunity to appreciate the wisdom of my child to find where she belongs in the world and live there to the fullest of her abilities. I’ve always loved rituals, and find them so spiritually meaningful, in that it takes these moments of reflection to build a beautiful cache of gratitude to carry around in our hearts for a lifetime.