Counting Down to College
Next weekend, my son Jack will move into his college dorm as a freshman, and mark the beginning of a new stage in his life and mine, too. As a parent, this is the day I have tried to prepare him to spread his wings and fly out of the nest. Never mind the fact that mama bird is feeling a bit emotional, like the first day I dropped him off at preschool (multiplied by one thousand).
Of course I’m excited for him. He has worked really hard to get good grades, score decent on his ACT, and write an impressive resume and college essay. He deserves this time to explore his freedom, take on new challenges, and meet new people. My biggest concern is that he sleeps into the afternoon or falls out of his loft bed.
Over the years, I’ve written about this topic of letting go in many chapters of my book Mishegas of Motherhood. Raising Children To Leave The Nest As Long As They Come Home For Dinner. For example, in “Celebrate Another High Holiday: Back To School,” I angst over his transition into middle school. Really? I even talked about preschool separation anxiety at his bar mitzvah in, “Mom’s Bar Mitzvah Speech Stirs Emotions.” I’ve come a long way, baby.
Also, in Chapter 10, “School Daze,” I explore the craziness of overcompetitive parenting and academic success in “Good Character, or Middot, Makes The Grade.”
This story is one of my faves, “Teacher Conferences Put Parents In The Hot Seat.” Jeez, I needed to get a life.
More recently, to prepare for this time when he goes to college, I wrote about adolescence and high school in “Teen Brain Baffles Parents,” and “The ABCs of ACTs” and “Career Day Spotlights Working Moms” and “College Prep Triggers Emotions for Mom.”
Finally, the theme of my “It’s A Mom Thing” reading at Listen To Your Mother 2o13 is about the anticipation of this upcoming milestone.
Growing up is a slow, gradual process, and yet it goes by so fast. I thought my firstborn was getting old when his sixth grade back -to- school supply list didn’t include washable markers and crayons anymore. Now it feels real. In fact, it really hit me the other day when he opened a FedEx box stuffed with bubble wrap and three used textbooks that he ordered online, plus a can of Red Bull, The Silver Edition, and a package of Wrigley’s 5 gum that the company threw in for good marketing.
That was big moment in reality. Here’s a few more signs that he is going from a child to young adult. Instead of a new backpack, he has a new storage trunk. Instead of a box of tissue and hand sanitizer for the classroom, he is bringing a futon and mini fridge to share with his roommate. Instead of new sneakers, he has high thread count cotton sheets that match his navy comforter. Not that he cares.
Obviously, the best way for me to deal with the upcoming separation is, what else, go shopping. I even picked out a red area rug that coordinates with microfiber accent pillows that go with his school colors. Again, he could care less. The only thing he cares about is his laptop and music speakers.
Meanwhile, I bought him some things he’ll probably never use. For example, two dozen hangers. His shirts and pants usually end up on the floor. A shoe rack. His tennis shoes are scattered all over the house. A red broom and dustpan. Who am I kidding?
So, the next few days I will try to spend as much time possible with my son, who actually doesn’t mind hanging out with me if I take him to lunch. I will miss him, but he will miss Luci our toy poodle even more, especially when she curls into a ball and lays beside him in his bed every morning.
I guess my biggest advice to Jack would be this:
- Word hard.
- Have fun.
- Don’t get drunk or do anything stupid.
- Call your mother.