CHOG #11 - DID YOU JUST SEND A CHILD OFF TO COLLEGE?
Updated: Aug 31, 2022
I am glad that those days are over for me! Steve and I didn’t handle it very well when our boys went off to college (insert giggle giggle)!
If you have read some of my previous Chogs, and when you get the chance to read my book, Insert Giggle Giggle, Laughing Your Way through Raising Kids and Running a Business, you will completely understand how hard it was for me when the boys went “away” to college (okay neither of them left the state and Hayden was only about 30 minutes away!), the reason being because no mother loves her children as much as I love mine! Yes, I said exactly that through my tears when Hayden went to college (again 30 minutes down the road to Georgia Tech) and William was at home trying to console me. A couple of days later, I giggled when telling some of my mom friends this story…..cuz they love their kids as much as I love mine – I guess…..(insert giggle giggle)!
I got the idea for this Chog this morning while scrolling through my (yes) newbie Instagram user obsession (insert giggle giggle) that showed a posting by Brooke Shields of her crying as her daughter drove off for her second year of college. Okay – I didn’t cry the second year, so I guess Brooke loves her children more than I love mine (insert giggle giggle!)! Anyway, she mentioned that she couldn’t go along this time with her daughter because she couldn’t face another year of the “driving away” emotions that most of us experience when we drop a child off at college. It’s heart-wrenching isn’t it.
We didn’t cry when we pulled away from Hayden’s dorm (again 30 minutes down the road from our house) because everything was so cute in his dorm and he was so excited. We left him talking with his roommates and we got in our car and drove home, arriving minutes later (insert giggle giggle!!). But when we drove William almost 3 hours away to his college a couple of years later and had the same experience of setting up his room and leaving him, all excited with his baseball buddies, he made a call to us when we got to the car…he had left something and needed to come down. As he slowly walked up the hill away from us, Steve broke down. I wasn’t far behind. The slow and solemn way that William was walking away from us (probably because it was just a hill he was climbing!…..) seemed to say (in my mommy mind) that he didn’t want us to leave him. I wanted to call to him and scoop him up and take him back home. Oh well, it wasn’t a good ride home…..
In the chapter in my book discussing graduations and what can/does happen to the family during this time, I take a look at the Empty Nest Syndrome and how we all handle this in different ways. When both the boys were gone and our house was, empty, my heart was as well. But…..it took about 2 months to get over that as Steve and I discovered a whole new way of living! What do you know….we can do anything we want to! We can go to the gym every night – eat out – or not eat at all! We can go to the movies every Friday night, go to lunch and shopping on Saturday and be gone the whole day if we want to – we can get up in the morning and all of a sudden decide to ride up to Helen and walk around the “make-believe” Bavarian streets and have a brat and some beer. And no laundry and no tons of groceries to buy…..wow….it was a treat! Sure, we missed all the activities that our boys used to do, but I guess being so involved with them and with those things for so many years, gave us comfort that we had no regrets about the time that we made, gladly, to participate in all their interests.
But what about the parents that can’t get over their Empty Nest Syndrome? In my research, I ran across situations that gave statistics of parents that go into deep depression, turn to alcohol or drugs to numb their pain, or possibly have martial problems now that they are a “couple” again instead of a set of parents. When I was at a very low point during those first couple of months after William left for college, Steve said to me one day…..”We were fine before we had them and we will be fine now without them”. That meant everything to me. Steve and I were married 10 years before we decided to become parents, had “dated” since we were 12 and 13, so we KNEW how to be a couple (insert giggle giggle!). We just had to find that “couple-hood” mentality again, and it wasn’t hard. But for some, it is.
Steve and I didn’t have the philosophy when our boys were growing up to establish and adhere to a “date night” each week or each month. You hear of some couples doing that, and if that works for them, then that’s great. But we just let life happen. If we had the opportunity ourselves, if we were invited by friends, or if something came up for either of us individually, we took advantage of both of our moms being in town and totally on board to have the boys for the evening or maybe even the weekend. But it wasn’t something we forced. Just coming in from whatever we had been doing on a Saturday and having to get the kids ready for a babysitter or trip to grandmas and then get all dressed up myself for a couple of hours out, would have sent me over the mommy-edge! But, when we did have that spontaneous or even planned “couple time”, it was wonderful!
So, your graduate – what are you doing right now to be “fine without them”. Are you exploring interests that may have been shelved while you were busy being a great mom? Are you and your husband finding an interesting way to spend time together? Are you connecting with friends in a meaningful way that NOW doesn’t include each other’s kid’s activities – that was a big plus! Funny how you can now see not only your husband in a different way, but also other moms that can now just be girlfriends!
How’s your graduate doing away from home? This is always a concern as well. Us moms worry and worry about our child growing into a young adult and “fending for themselves”. Are they eating well, do they have clean clothes to wear, are they getting everywhere they need to be on time since we aren’t there to supervise that. It’s a lot to worry about – and news flash, you will NEVER stop worrying about all this no matter how old they get! But everyone can just relax, right? The kids totally get it and aren’t worrying a bit about how you may be standing in the laundry room crying or trying to decide how to cut a favorite family recipe in half because there’s only 2 now (insert giggle giggle!).
Just take your time - lean in (as they say) to your new life and embrace all that this new chapter holds FOR YOU. Your child is not the only one embarking on a new journey, a new adventure, and yes, a new life. Be as excited as they are and let them know that you are excited. So many of us may put undue pressure on our children to still make us feel useful. The best gift you can give your child is secure wings to fly on their own and by letting them know that you are doing the same and showing them how enjoyable and exciting this is going to be for everyone. Your child will enjoy watching YOU be happy just as you enjoy watching their happiness......
Tears – yes. Show them that too on that college drive-away. But when they come home at the Christmas break for a month…..don’t be surprised if you are counting the days to your life gets back to…..normal!
Congratulations graduates – and moms and dads!!!!!
Next up….. Are You Appealing?
Always remember to insert a giggle giggle ~ Kay 😊