You may not have noticed, but I sent my son to college recently. I held it together pretty well, considering how strongly I feel about my kiddo. The outpouring of calls I got was very touching … people checked on me for several days after the move to make sure I wasn’t committing empty-nest seppuku.
The entire experience of sending Kory to the University of Kentucky still seems a little unreal. If there is anything I can remember about my upbringing, it is that UK is the best team, the best school, the gold standard for athleticism and education. This is mostly due to my father’s passion for UK’s basketball team, despite the fact that he attended Bellarmine, and my sisters attended U of L. My brother made it to UK, for a while, but I didn’t appreciate the impact at the time. Sitting in freshman/parent orientation, I appreciated the impact. It was a really amazing experience.
(Non-Kentucky readers – the rivalry between UK and UL is explosive. Think OSU v Michigan. Russia v USA. Cats v Dogs.)
I am a visual person … words and images resonate with me. So, when I see the UK blue and white, or the Kentucky Wildcat, I feel genuinely happy. It’s not just a pleasing color combination, it’s an affirmation of things I’ve heard since I was a little kid. I’ve also watched the basketball team do some pretty amazing things. Football, not so much. Nobody’s perfect.
I hear people say derisive and, frankly, horrible things about the college and team I was raised to love. I try to separate the passion for sports from … well, the rest of humanity. Sports fans are a little nuts … it’s like religion.
The sports, however, are not the important thing here. There are several important things going on, and I have only recently been able to take the space I need to reflect.
– I was a teen mom. I spent a couple of years doing a really crappy job of raising my son, and if his grandparents hadn’t stepped in I have no idea where we would be today.
– I did, eventually, get it together and make Kory my priority. It’s the smartest thing I have ever done.
– My boyfriend, partner, and best friend Chip has been around since my boy was funny-looking (he was kind of purple as a baby), and neither Kory nor I would be where we are today without him.
– When I was Kory’s age, I was pregnant, living in a crappy apartment, and wondering how to pay bills on minimum wage. Kory is a pre-med student at a renowned university and, from what I can tell, loving every minute of it.
I see some really sad comments on social media sites about my son’s school. Things like “I support UL because I went there, you support UK because you went to Wal-Mart.” I’ll save my thoughts on Wal-Mart for another post, but to the rest, there are many reasons to support a team or university. Few of them involve where you actually went to school. Most of them involve the values or lessons you learned while growing, and a team can be a positive influence in many ways. It gave me a way to relate to my father.
It gave me a legacy to pass to my son.