This post is dedicated, in general, to all the parents who are getting ready to send off their child(ren) to college. In particular, this post is with thoughts of Tracy S. and Jennifer D., who are sending their third and last child off to school. Whether it’s your first born or your last, take comfort that you are not alone if you’re feeling the struggle.
Mom always said, “As a mother, you are only as happy as your unhappiest child.” This means that you will soar with their successes and, yes, you will hurt for their failures. The hardest part is for those of you who will have children hours away. On the other hand, they will learn how to deal without your physical presence. (Nobody said you couldn’t coach them from afar, though).
Recently, I was sorting through cards and notes I’ve kept forever. I found a card that was written by me, not to me. I don’t remember if I ever gave this to Korey or wrote it and shoved it in my drawer or if she read it and shoved it in her drawer. I wrote it the day she left for Versailles, France, for her junior year. Here it is:
September 3, 2009
Well, finally, here it is and here you go! Your careful preparation and consideration will give you a wonderful foundation for your adventure abroad. This is just too wonderful of an opportunity to put into words. We are so many things right now for you…excited, nervous and anxious (a little) for you to get there, settled and started. Remember that not everything will go smoothly and to just adapt, whether it’s the travel, the school, communication or housing. Just remember, positive or negative, the experiences will all go into your memory bank. The good things will be replayed and the negatives, deleted or laughed about later, but you will gain valued lessons from both. We hope to follow your adventure as best as we can and will give advice only when asked…or when Dad thinks you need some…which will be often. Ha! I gave Nick a buckeye for good luck when we got him to school and here’s one for you to travel with. I guess it has brought me/us good luck along the way, because you bring us a lot of joie de vivre.*
We love you very much. Have fun, stay well, be safe – see you in December. Mom & Dad
*Joie de vivre. My attempt to incorporate some French. It means joy of living.
As I reread this note, it makes me kind of sad. In fact, sadder now than when we actually sent her off. Weird. Maybe it was adrenaline or maybe shock, but Korey asked me as we hugged around her gargantuan backpack, “Is it okay that we’re the only ones not crying?” I replied, “Yep, it’s fine!” There may have been more than a few teardrops later, in the car, as we left Chicago’s O’hare. UGH.
From my memory bank, the worst moments of the year were:
- The American Airlines ticket agent charge of $100 for overweight baggage, until she realized the bulk of weight was from shoes Korey needed for an entire year. She gave her a pass on those!
- housing situation was less than pleasant.
- Her good camera was pickpocketed in Athens.
- Her dad found out she traveled to his two forbidden countries, because they had extremely volatile economies: Greece and Spain. (Korey, this probably explains the bad camera karma in Athens…)
Parents with college-bound children could have a support group, except everyone’s too busy packing right now. Stay busy, be kind to yourself and know that your struggle is real.
On the other hand, you might have a different experience like I/we did.
- After we moved Nick, our second and last child, into his dorm room, we asked, “Do you want to get a bite to eat before we drive home?” He answered, “No, I’m good!” Sometimes they make it easy on us, right?
- When leaving for Arizona State, 8/17/73, I road with Debbie, a returning sophomore. My parents didn’t take me. Nope, they waved me out of the driveway. WHAT? I’m going 1,500 miles away and they wave bye-bye? And I thought that was normal…
Parents, however you feel, just own it. You’re entitled.