College drop-off, it turns out, is not for the feint of heart. When we finally got to that point in the day, I held my son tightly and told him I loved him, I’m proud of him, then walked away with fake confidence. I cried all the way home. It was ugly and I’m pretty sure the flight attendants thought someone had died. I wasn’t crying because I was sad. I was crying because I was happy for him. We did it!!!
He was happy and I was sure he was going to thrive in his new home. In part, I was crying because the daily chemistry in my home was now going to be different, and I really enjoyed the way things were for the past 18 years. And now, we’re all trying to figure out our new normal. I’m realizing that a mother’s work is never done and the sadness I feel is more about me than about him.
In the meantime, here are some important lessons I learned at college drop-off.
College Drop-Off: 18 Important Lessons
- Hooks, hooks and more hooks. Over the door hooks, command hooks… you can’t have enough.
- Explain again what “no” means. Like, for real. This is so important.
- It’s okay to remind him to call mom.
- Don’t linger. It’s super hard for your kid to make new friends with mom standing right there.
- Place those hooks we talked about earlier by the door on the wall to keep wet towels off the bed, and also to avoid mold. I’m pretty sure they won’t be washed with the same frequency as they were at home.
- Take lots of pictures…yes, your child will complain, but this is a moment in history for your family and you’ll want to document. Heck, bribe him with food if you have to, but take lots of pictures. Someday, you’ll be glad you did.
- Remind him of the value of a firm handshake and remembering people’s names.
- Remind him that he can never say “please” and “thank you” too often.
- Exchange numbers with the roommate and his parents, if possible…back up emergency plans are essential.
- Remind him to be the type of friend he wants to have.
- If he gets that tattoo he’s been talking about for 2 years, strongly suggest the word “Mom” inside a heart.
- Remind him he can always charge the taxi/Uber to your account, if he needs to get home safely and there is even a question about whether he is sober enough to drive. There will be no recriminations. You want him safe.
- Tell him to not let friends drive drunk. You’ll pay for their taxi/Uber too.
- Discuss communication expectations. We’re not trying to annoy you, but we miss you and want to know how you’re doing. So please give us an update, it doesn’t have to be detailed.
- If you’ve been drinking, drink a big glass of water before you go to sleep.
- Let your child know that if he fails to respond to calls/texts for more than a day, you’ll assume he’s dead or stuck under something heavy. It’s a mom thing. Humor us.
- Remind him to brush every morning…aside from cavities, morning breath does not attract friends.
- Oh, and did I mention, call your mom?
I made it through college drop-off and an era has officially ended. I can’t sugar coat this…it sucks and it sucks hard. However I’m ready to now take a step back and watch his life unfold, knowing that even when we’re not together, our family is forever bonded.
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