Okay vs. Not So Hot

Since I whined in my last post about how my daughter is off on her new college adventure while I'm stuck in the old adventure without her, I thought it might be helpful if I shared some tips I've gleaned from my own personal experience in dealing with this transitional time in a parent's life. The following is my brief compilation of Okay vs. Not So Hot advice on handling a firstborn going off to college:

OKAY: Keeping tabs on your offspring by performing silent-as-a-ninja Facebook stalking. It's even all right to hit the "Like" button on occasion.
NOT SO HOT: Commenting on every new picture, status and profile change. Striking up conversations with other commenters (whom you don't know) in your desperate attempt to discover what's happening each and every second of her daily life. You may soon find yourself blocked and your quaint witticisms deleted.

OKAY: Short texting exchanges a few times a week to check up, see how she's doing or to share something funny.
NOT SO HOT: Whining to everybody and his brother about how she doesn't call enough. Telling her how much you're crying and missing her when she does call. Inundating her with burning text-messaged questions like:

"So, whatcha doing now?"
"…How 'bout now?"
"What did you eat today?"
"What time did you go to bed last night?"

OKAY: Learning to use SKYPE and "chatting" with her briefly when you both happen to be online at the same time.
NOT SO HOT: Lying in wait for the moment you see her SKYPE status change to "online." Then bribing her with promised webcam images of the family pet in your attempt to get her to videochat with you every night.

OKAY: Appreciating the cleanliness of her now-vacated bedroom—sighing in delight at its clutter-free beauty.
NOT SO HOT: Re-arranging her room, and re-organizing her drawers, shelves and closet the way you've always wanted it. Raiding her wardrobe for clothes that she left behind…and wearing them.

And finally…

OKAY: Dusting off your old hobbies. Developing some new ones. Getting together with friends you haven't seen in a while. Taking a new class. Volunteering.

Turning your focus outside will help you on the inside, and eventually you'll work your way into a new kind of normal. Then you'll be okay… instead of not so hot.

Quote of the Week

I do not try to dance better than anyone else.
I only try to dance better than myself.

~ Mikhail Baryshnikov ~

Image by: grand.jete

Adjusting to College

"It was great while it lasted," I sigh.

Chris rolls his eyes heavenward and flips to the next page of the newspaper he’s reading.

"What? She was with us for 18 amazing years. Now it's all over."

"She’s not dead. All she did was decide not to come home last weekend."

"For my BIRTHDAY!"

"Did you come home for your mother's birthday when you were at school?"

"Well…noooo. But why doesn't she want to come home?" I'm whining now.

"Because she's having fun. Isn't that what we both wanted for her?"

"I suppose," I grumble. "I just miss her. She probably doesn't even miss me."

"She misses you."


I'll tell you what, it's been a hard adjustment to college. Hard for me I mean. I knew it would be difficult when we sent our oldest off to school, just not this difficult. I didn't really cry much before she left. In fact, the day before we took her up to school I'm embarrassed to say I was downright mean. I'm sure this was because I was suppressing my emotions. (Either that or having a major PMS attack, but I'm sticking with the first idea.)

She had come home sobbing after saying good-bye to her friends, and was looking for sympathy. I remained coolly distant, shedding naught a tear.

"Mom, you'd better cry when you drop me off at school!" she'd wailed at me.

I did. A little.

Of course, after we arrived back home that night I really broke down. I was a mess! I proceeded to cry several more times after that. Great wracking sobs which left me in a puffy-eyed, nose-plugged heap on the floor. Chris would pick me up and hold me tight each time till I stopped.

"Aren't you getting tired of this?" I sniffled against his shirt.

"No," he replied, ever patient.

The thing is, this is the moment we were preparing her for all along. It's what all parents are preparing our children for.


From the moment we let them begin making decisions for themselves, like choosing whatever mismatched outfit they want to wear to school, the process starts. We give them incrementally greater freedom with each passing year. We discuss morals, ethics and values with them. We let them know where we stand on issues and listen to their views in return. We teach them to prioritize, to study. Guide them through difficult decisions, even let them screw up on occasion for the sake of learning. All of it culminating to this point in time. The moment where we let them go it on their own.

But in the midst of all that preparation and parental hard work, we maybe forget about preparing ourselves. (At least I did!) Everyone tells me it will get better, so I hold onto that thought. I've even had parents tell me they cried at first, but now groan in dismay when they learn their kids will be back home for extended periods. It's hard to imagine reaching that point. But then again, when I was a hip, young D.I.N.K. it was hard for me to imagine anybody calling me mom in the first place. But “somebodies” do. And so hopefully, I will.

Image by: DOliphant

Quote of the Week

"Don't live in that mythical land of 'Oneday Isle.'
Manage your time NOW and don't always promise
yourself you'll do it One Day. Today is the day!"

~ Dennis "Doc" Hensley ~

Image by: Ilsaa

The Middle and Me

I don't mean to whine, but I never get to watch real T.V. Even though I work out of my home, I'm at my computer all day and in the evenings it seems I'm always doing stuff till 10:00 p.m. or later. Exhausted, I'll eventually flop down on the sofa to simultaneously read a book and watch reruns of Friends, Seinfeld or The Office.

I've randomly caught a few episodes of popular shows, but I am never able to contribute knowledgeably to conversations with my friends whenever they begin discussing the most recent episode of Glee or whatever.

Last Friday evening we were actually home for a change. I dragged out the laundry basket full of clean laundry that had needed folding for two days and proceeded to turn on the television for something to look at while I performed this mundane task. The "Homecoming" episode of The Middle was just starting. I vaguely recalled friends describing this show as funny so I flipped it on. My hubs wandered in and sat down to watch it with me.

It was pretty good, had a quirky sort of humor and I smiled during a few parts, but I wasn't positive I'd be drawn to watching it again until this scene hit. And by the time it finished, my hubs and I were laughing so hard we were doubled up. Tears were streaming down my cheeks.

Oh my gosh! This is ME! This mom (Patricia Heaton) IS ME!!

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I know there is an unwritten rule against doing this, but please don't tell me it's not every mom's impulse to do exactly what Frankie did! We're just forced to quash that impulse for the sake of not embarrassing our baby—er, teen.

I've been forcibly (but politely) held back from rushing the field by baseball coaches and have managed to get other soccer parents to go check on my son during games when he appears to be in pain. Oh yeah. I'm that mom. I'm definitely tuning in next week!

Just curious, can any other moms out there relate? Have you ever "accidentally" embarrassed your child at a public event?

Quote of the Week

"If Columbus had an advisory committee
he would probably still be at the dock."
~ Arthur Goldberg ~

Excuses, Excuses

My son is considering taking lifeguard lessons to boost his summer job marketability. He's not on the swim team, but he's a confident swimmer. I find this amusing considering his rocky initiation into the underwater world.

I am a terrible swimmer. When I took swimming lessons the custom was: If you didn't jump in by yourself, they threw you in. Sink or swim, baby.

I sank.

To this day the smell of chlorine makes me nauseous.

Not wanting my children to be equally as traumatized, I sought out kind, nurturing swim instructors who would introduce my children to the skill of swimming in a gentle, loving manner. Mrs. H. taught private swim lessons in her own pool each summer. I signed up my daughter Ashleigh first. Within six lessons she went from barely getting her hair wet to executing a lovely front crawl. Mrs. H. was perfect! She was nurturing and kind, yet firm—in a loving way—when she needed to be.

Anxious for my son to benefit from this woman's incredible teaching skills, I signed Joshua up the next summer. Secure in her embrace, he did gentle dunkings beneath the surface of the water, just as his sister had done, and held onto Mrs. H.'s arms as he happily practiced kicking his little legs. But when the day finally came for him to jump into the pool on his own…


His little arms clung to the side of the pool in a death grip. No amount of kindness, gentleness, cajoling or bribery would pry that kid loose. Then loving, gentle, nurturing Mrs. H. uttered the words that sent me spiraling back in time and I experienced my own personal version of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

"Sweetheart, if you don't jump in on your own, I'm going to have to throw you in."

What?! Was she serious? My gut clenched.

Josh just shook his little head and held on even tighter.

I sat, frozen, as Mrs. H. climbed from the pool. I wanted to stop her. To say something! But my mouth and throat went dry as paper towel.

"I don’t want to jump in. NO! Noooooo!" my little guy cried.

"Yes, sweetheart."

I could feel my own heart race as she detached his skinny arms and lifted him from the pool.

"Hold your breath, honey."



I leaped to my feet, complete panic galvanizing me into action. Although I lacked swimming skills, I prepared to dive in and save my baby when his dark head suddenly bobbed to the surface and he dog-paddled the few feet back to the edge.

Mrs. H. looked down at him.

Josh wiped his nose and looked up at her, grinning. "Can we do that again?"

I sank back down, slack jawed, he LIKED it?! Was he nuts?

Mrs. H. dropped him in several more times that day and he LOVED it. The nut!

Remembering this story got me thinking metaphorically again. What happened with Josh is what happens to a lot of us when it comes to our private goals and dreams--like my desire to write novels (published novels!). Maybe you have the same desire to write, or you'd like to go back to school or make a career change. We happily kick around in that dream stage. But when the moment comes to actually dive in, we balk. Sure, we've got loads of great excuses. Life is too busy. Now is not a good time. We don't have the money right now. But what it really boils down to is fear. Fear of failure? Fear of success?

So we procrastinate.

I was blessed with the equivalent of a psychological toss into the pool from a writing class I took. Now I've got a finished first draft of my novel to show for it and I'm swimming my way through revisions. What about you? Do you have a secret dream you've kept tucked away, hidden from everyone's view—including your own? What's stopping you from jumping in?
Image by: Grace Family

Quote of the Week

“It’s a funny thing about life;
if you refuse to accept anything but the best,
you very often get it.”

~ Somerset Maugham ~

Image by: Tell Jeeves