Adjusting to College
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