So, it’s all very, very good. We’ve had college in mind for 18 years. We’ve saved for it for 18 years. We didn’t really hope she’d live in the basement.

We paid for books, drove her to games and rehearsals, pushed her to work hard. We filled out the applications, did more than stress our minds out, cross our fingers and say our prayers. But geez, this is the deal? She actually LEAVES?

I’m paying for this pit in my stomach?


This picture sits on my desk. This was my baby Cope starting kindergarten, just a little while ago.

I remember her so well at this age. She had a little brother and a baby sister who accompanied her to school. She wore a yellow rain jacket and Elmo backpack. On the first day of kindergarten she came home and threw a ginormous tantrum, collapsing on the couch in a deep sleep from sheer exhaustion. This would continue to happen throughout her childhood 🙂

She lives with passion, this girl.

What a privilege it has been to be her mother. There are no perfect mothers, but I have tried to be a good one. I’ve pondered: Do I regret other “opportunities” I didn’t take so I could be home more and raise children? Do I regret any of the stories read, the bedtime routines, the wake up and go to sleep times? I regret none of it. I have no greater accomplishment.

Suddenly she’s this girl: so confident and smart and compassionate and beautiful.

We had a great August. Slow days of packing and purging and sorting. What to bring to college when you have to put it on an airplane (2 carry-ons per passenger, nothing over 50lbs.)

We also had hostage-like negotiation sessions over clothes – she is always raiding my closet!A certain sister already had her room packed up before Cope left, chomping at the bit to move downstairs instead of across the hall from mom and dad.

Cope and I and flew across the country, hovering above the great Salt Lake. It was getting real.

I was that really strange mom taking photos of my grown daughter while she slept beside me. I found myself gazing at her skin and eyelashes, wondering how this thing called “TIME” works. I thought of Erma Bombeck’s poem, WHY DON’T YOU GROW UP?

Guess what? They do.

Although Utah is a desert, we went hiking and found TREES!

We stayed with my sister and family where Cope walked little Autumn to first grade. On the first day, Autumn cried and clung to Cope. Cope looked at me with big eyes and panic, mouthing, “WHAT DO I DO?”

I said: Give her a hug and kiss, I’ll see you later, and walk away.

Oh dear, I feared I would be Autumn in a few days.

We made it! She has a room key. I don’t. What the heck?

We love her dorm and roommate!

After buying out the entire local Target (when people tell you that bringing your child to college is the most expensive trip you will make – THEY ARE RIGHT. I, the tight-fisted budget mom was suddenly spending her feelings on lamps and hangers and “Honey, look at this llama lamp, do you want it for your room???! No? How about mug with your initial or how about M for Mom? Make-up? Do you want make-up? What can I buy you???”) Who was this woman???

We spent HOURS debating about room decor (Believe me, Pinterest IS NOT YOUR FRIEND). However, after agonizing over the tapestry and bedding for literally DAYS, we had just what she wanted. Bless you, Amazon, and your free Prime 2-Day shipping.


“Dad, mom knows she’s not staying, right?”

We walked around campus, reliving the college years (Gregor and I met at BYU!) Cope patiently endured us.

 This is a much bigger pond than our little town…

Of course we had to get pictures with the BYU cougar. “Moooooom!” And yes, we are now completely dressed from head to toe in True Blue BYU fan gear. I’m sorry if you find me annoying for the next four years 🙂

On the bright side. The BYU bookstore has the best cinnamon gummy bears IN THE WORLD. This is not a joke. For $2.50 a bag, I’ll just eat her way through college.

On the wall in the bookstore: We went to spy on her the next day at freshman orientation (we didn’t see her). Um, is this what they mean by “helicopter parents”? Clearly, we are part of the problem.

We made up an excuse to meet up for a few minutes before our flight took off. When she came walking across campus she looked like she could be in college. Oh wait…she is?

Final hugs good-bye, in the Joseph Smith building, where Gregor really fell in love with me 🙂

And so it begins.

We left her in the capable hands of mighty Mount Timpanogus, my most favorite mountain. Can you see her lying across the top, left to right? Keep an eye on my girl, Timp.

She will, as this girl does, read. And study. And learn. She will, as BYU’s motto states: “Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve.”

The Class of 2017. “You Are the Y.”

Excuse me while I go get a tissue. As Gregor says, “this is the happiest sad I think I’ve ever felt.”



  • The old man across the street says:

    This is a very beautiful statement blessing you folks

  • Rob says:

    What a novel idea you saved for college. Good for you..

  • Ronda says:

    This was our exact, and I mean exact, experience. I kept looking at the parents walking around with or behind their student and wondering if they were in my freshman class at BYU? Somehow – knowing that there were others aging in the time warp as me, seemed to fascinate and repulse me at the same time. How could I possibly be as old as these parents?

  • Carrie Rubin says:

    It’s a strange thing for sure. My oldest started college two years ago, but he was only 45 minutes away and came home on weekends. Now he’s transferring to a university better suited to his major, so no more weekends home. His dad’s driving out with him this weekend. It will be sad to see him go, but I’m excited for him too.

    But unlike your daughter, he has no interest in room decor. I couldn’t even talk him into a small rug to cozy the place up.

  • Ginny Bartoldus says:

    Welcome to Club you two! Now wait…wait for it…blink and then it’s the next one! You truly captured the experience Amy!

    With that being said, only one more phrase fits… WELL DONE!

    Now on hold, because these next four years are going to be AMAZING !

    Love you all very much!
    Ginny B

  • Whelp, now I’m crying. Thanks a LOT! JK. I can’t even think about this stuff without getting very lonely. Hopefully by the time Tess (now 4) leaves for college, my older kids (now 19 and 22) will have given me grandbabies 🙂

  • Peter Nelson says:

    Great article and pics. Thanks Amy!

  • Kate says:

    So tough and so wonderful at the same time. My oldest just started high school, and I’m already feeling the pressure! You’re so lucky to have a beautiful, smart, kind daughter and she is lucky to have you. Keep wriiting! Hugs!

  • Julia Tomiak says:

    This is beautiful, and I am trying very hard to embrace the change and excitement and tamper down the tears as my oldest starts his senior year. I’ve already started stocking up on extra hugs. He has suggested I should not come when we drop him off. Not a chance, buddy. I just need to practice not crying. I’ve got time, right?

  • Dana says:

    Oh, I know this is a late comment, but I have all the feels….I miss my girl too. It was harder this year than last, because we had such a lovely summer at home. I hope Cope is adjusting well, and that you and the rest of your family are adapting to your new normal. Thinking about you!!

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