Parent story

A mom’s experience in Halifax

I think I did rather well.

I didn’t finish unpacking the open suitcases on the apartment floor, hang up the clothes in his bedroom or hug him too much.

The last one was a bit of a struggle.

My son, Niall Roe, moved to Halifax to start law school at Dalhousie at the end of August. I went along for a few days mainly for me, although I know he appreciated me pushing the cart in the grocery store and picking up the $300 tab.

As we walked up and down the aisles loading up on staples—salt and pepper, giant bag of rice, lots of tinned tomatoes—I remembered how much fun I had moving away to go to school. I was thrilled and terrified at the same time—two sides of the same coin, I guess.

We picked up a solid chopping board but put back the flimsy can opener. He’ll have to find a better one for all those tomatoes. I tried to impart some last minute grocery shopping advice: go ahead and save a few coins buying house brand black beans but don’t cheap out on the dish soap.

Plenty of other parents were doling out their advice and debit cards. I recognized the look on their faces: excitement and pride mixed with a touch of angst and a good measure of bewilderment—how can you be at Dal? About 20 minutes ago, you were in grade 5 and just starting to walk to school by yourself!

Yet there we were, wandering around Halifax, an undergrad and masters in philosophy under his belt and a law degree to come. I am thrilled Niall picked Dalhousie. I was rooting for Halifax because I love the city (and friends who live here), but it was entirely his decision.

There were several options on the table and he dug into researching them, going for coffee with family friends who are lawyers, Skyping high school classmates studying law across the country and poking around university websites. One afternoon he pulled up images of the different school’s hoodies, lining them up side by side and offering a critique of the colours, fonts and logos. I am fairly certain he was just messing with me.

When people heard that Dal was one of Niall’s options, law alumni started coming out of the woodwork happy to meet with him, offer their time, business cards and assistance—a warm sense of community that extended all the way to Calgary.

That did it. He was going for gold.

And now here we are putting away the groceries in his tiny kitchen. The suitcases are still on the floor in the other room. I’m sure he’ll get to them eventually. But before I go I can’t help myself, I organize the recycling and do the dishes.

Driving over the Mackay Bridge I steal a quick glance back at my son’s new city and toss a loonie into the toll bin. My adventure in Halifax is over. But his is just beginning.