College Drop-off: I have some thoughts
College drop off feels like it should be the end of the journey with our kids. Right, they are adults now, they are independent. It feels like it's the tape across the lanes that we are rush rush rushing towards, madly scrambling to the grand finish. Turns out, it's just the beginning of yet another adventure, with different characters, more considerations, a lot more financial investment and ... yes, your parenting journey is not yet over.
Some of the things I have found surprising:
I have to adjust my cooking. I have fewer big appetites at the table, and now have to adjust the recipes a bit smaller, otherwise I end up eating leftovers for lunch (and dinner).
Communication is generally not free-flowing with a boy, and now I am left with miserly and sporadic bursts of What's app messages. Here's the thing: it isn't that your college kid is avoiding talking to you (probably). They are now solely responsible for their schedule. And remember: you WANT them to meet and make friends, and go to class and do their homework ... so, maybe the little dribbles of contact have to be sufficient. Unless you can tamp down your communication urges, and opt instead for 10 or 15 minute chats when it works for them. And don't think they will pay attention to any time zone differences. Embrace the call when it comes, and maybe don't turn on your camera. The connection, the quick chats, especially when he initiates it is like a warm hug for your heart.
The other siblings are hit just as hard by missing their elder brother. They don't have the same communication skill set that I might but nonetheless are dealing with the loss of regularly seeing their big brother. They too resort to social media interactions, chatting about the topics they once used to sit and dissect in person. Basketball, video games, volleyball, advice for a particular teacher or assignment ... it's the same just spread out over voice messages, IMs, DMs, and other Ms. And "bruh" still punctuates every other sentence.
People -- your coworkers, well-meaning friends, total strangers -- will come up to you, tip their head to the side and give you that "are you ok?" sympathetic tone and pat. People will expect you to fall apart. It's okay if you want to. It's hard being so far away from one of your favorite humans.
When it is nighttime at uni, there is a peace of mind in being able to see the phone on my Find my devices app, resting where you know his dorm room to be. That peace of mind is important. Ok, so he might have forgotten the phone at home and went out without it (so not likely); just knowing that he is resting where he should be at the time he should be is a good thing, even if it is not necessarily for the number of hours you'd suggest.
The University will not contact you with enough details or information. You will be in the dark. Your college student will not have all of the information, either. (not because it was not shared with him, but probably it was shared with him in a format that he does not check regularly, no matter how often you suggest). It's okay; in the end, everything will go as it should. He is not the first college student to weather this, nor will he be the last. And yes, the uni could be a little more forthcoming. But remember: your college-bound kiddo is supposed to be an adult, so if they are writing to you, that undermines his independence.
You have to trust that the habits you have hoped to inspire -- getting regular activity, eating veggies and fruits, staying hydrated, doing laundry regularly -- will continue on without you there to supervise (read: nag). Trust that it will happen. Maybe there will be days with slips, but it will happen. You are a very very important person to your kiddo; he will do what he has been watching you do and will continue these habits because he knows they will make him feel good.
A well-placed photo is a good idea. For you and for your kiddo.
Saying "see you later" was awful and hard.
So yes, that parenting journey. Now it looks a little different, and your little guy is no longer so very little, nor so very dependent on you. But he is still yours and wants to stay as connected as possible.
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