It doesn’t seem that long ago when my son Jack was in elementary school, and I used to put a Hershey’s Kiss in his sack lunch with a little note that said something like, “Have a fun day!” or “Good luck on your spelling test!” or “xxxooo.” That lasted about a week, until he finally said, no more embarrassing notes, just chocolate.
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.
This blog was actually posted last year in www.jewishinstlouis.org, but didn’t get in my website, so it’s worth repeating, even though my son is now a senior and the ACT is OVER!
In an effort to help my son achieve academic success (get into a decent college), I’ve decided to do my part without being overly involved. I know, it’s a tightrope act moms try to balance everyday with teenagers. As a parent of a high school junior, I feel overwhelmed just thinking about the near future. Somehow, Jack has to maintain a high GPA, stay involved in his activities, get a job, study for the PSAT, SAT, and ACT, schedule campus tours, fill out school applications, and, most importantly, learn how to operate a washing machine so that when he leaves home next year he doesn’t have to wear the same smelly t-shirt everyday and offend his roommate and accounting professor.
On January 10, 2007, I wrote a newspaper column that described how I freaked out when it was a year away from my son Jack’s bar mitzvah. A series of articles followed that described all the emotions that I experienced during this sacred rite of passage into adulthood.
- Will he learn his Torah portion?
- Will he feel closer to God?
- How do we fit Hebrew school into an already crazy hectic schedule?
- Who will be invited to his party?
- Should I splurge on lox at the kiddish luncheon even though he doesn’t eat anything but plain bagels?
- Will I find outfits for the entire family that coordinate with his necktie?
- Will I be able to get through my speech in front of a congregation without weeping uncontrollably because my heart is bursting with pride?
- Will I ever be able to walk again because my new high heels are too tight and my feet are killing me?
- Will he finish his thank you notes by the time he gets his driver’s license?
That was five years ago, and now I feel that same panic again. Only this time I’m emotional because my first child is applying for colleges and he will be leaving home in, gulp, about seven months.