Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I Never Had a Big Sister Until MHC

Yes, I know I talk about my college too much. It comes up as often as possible. Not to brag or annoy, but because it is like a num num. It is still, besides my children, the most amazing thing I have ever done (and I have parasailed and ziplined and eaten an apple turnover AND a donut at the same time...so this is big).

I went to revisit Mount Holyoke this weekend as I do every Fall with my bestie. Sometimes we end up there in Spring, too. We talk of bringing our kids there to run around and soak it in. I think I may go again next month with another friend/Alumna and her girls. I keep going back because of one reason: Mount Holyoke believed in a girl who did not believe in herself. (That'd be me) It is a place that centers me and recharges me. 

All my friends from college probably know this. Anyone from the college offices who have thanked me and asked me why I volunteer for them will hear me gush about the reason why. I am sure I have shared it with friends I have met since my years at MHC. Mount Holyoke took a chance with me and knew I could make it.  It was a total right-on move of theirs and I will never, ever stop thanking them. Ever. And it will make your ears bleed from listening and your eyes ache from rolling, but I won't even be embarrassed. That school is like the coolest older sister EVER. And I will tell everyone about her. She is my legend. She was the clearest mirror I have ever had in my life. So I go back there and I wander and I re-look at myself in that mirror and damn my ass looks good. You know? (not literally....well....yeah, maybe it does there. But I was using that as an analogy or metaphor or euphemism... something....OK. Moving on.)

I used to wander the campus junior and senior year with my friends saying, "I love this school and all it has taught me!!! (stage whisper) but I kinda want to be a mom, still." I was paranoid that my staying home once I had children would let the school down somehow. Some serious pioneers have graduated from there. And my alumna friends talk about how little we feel we have accomplished once we have read the class notes and learn about an alum building a school in a third world country out of reinforced, organic popsicle sticks, harvested sun power and a dream. (Wellllll, no. But some pretty amazing stuff.) But then I go wander the campus and feel a big sister harsh knuckle punch to the arm in which the college says "No, dweeb! Just impart who you are in the world. Give something and be smart about it!" I need that yearly punch in the arm.

MHC has no size or color or religion. She has them all. She has no judgements. She has diversity...not just of people, but of sweatpant styles and approaches to friendships. She is here and there and anywhere you want to be. She doesn't parent, you see. She big sisters. She gives you a funny look when you suggest something and then shrugs an "OK". She teaches you the lesson by making you go through the fire rather than preventing the fire as a parent might. She watches us stumble and fight and picks us up when we fall.... she doesn't dust us off, but throws us back in the center and says, "GET IT!! GET IT, YOU PUNK!!" or at least that is what she did for me. What she does for me still.

So I am back. I am feeling better after a weekend of non drama with my friend and a quick under arm pinch from the school. My head has cleared and my worries have lessened. If I made it through those 4 years of growth, development, and change unscathed and a better person, I can make it through life right now. Of course I can. And I am re-commited to being the kick-assiest. Not sure what that means exactly, but it will contain getting out there, outside of myself, and doing some great things.

And now, some inspiring words from Mary Lyon, the founder of Mount Holyoke College:

If anyone thinks he has no responsibilities, it is because he has not sought them out. 

There is nothing in the universe that I fear, but that I shall not know all my duty, or shall fail to do it. 

Go Forward, Attempt Great Things, Accomplish Great Things.


  1. You do know this is almost not fair. This is on top of my list for schools next year and I am going through the "I can't do it"'s

  2. But you CAN do it. Look at Mary. She has that look like, "Child please. And be quick about it." If you need an alumna interview to submit, let me know...

  3. SNIFF SNIFF> LOVE IT. THANK YOU! And thank you for being my first "boss" after graduating. I entered the real world with back-up. XO

  4. Mount Holyoke was the same for me. What a wonderful supportive place. I, too, often wonder if I can ever do my education, and Alma Mater, justice. My best friend went to a women's college in Virginia (now gone coed) and I took her to MHC for a weekend in the fall a few years ago. She had tears in her eyes thinking about her Alma Mater, but also realizing how much she felt at home there. Her daughter is 2, and we are already hoping she will be the MHC class of 2032. And if I calculated it right, she will also be a blue Lion, just like me.

  5. There could not be a better way to describe our MoHome:) Thank you for sharing! You know how it is said, it is always good to go back where you are coming from to recharge yourself? I always go back to MHC when I need a recharge and I think I always will because I feel I do come from there with my feelings and understanding of life... Ooops.. I think I am talking too much here... :)

    P.S. I am Tea, class of 2012.

  6. I've only been back once since I graduated in 1991, but that was exactly my experience: I was recentered and regrounded. Luckily, my roommate lives close by, so I can get a little touch of that without having to travel so far!

  7. And don't believe it only impacts the distaff side - I'm blessed to be married to an alumna and the father of one as well. They're better thanks to MHC (they both say that, emphatically), and I'm far, far better thanks to them. So, thanks to you as well, MHC, from a guy, even.