I’m Sad That There Won’t Be Parents’ Weekend This Year

I cried when I found out Parents’ Weekend was cancelled this year. I completely understand the rationale behind this difficult decision. Of course a college can’t welcome hundreds of eager parents onto a campus they’ve worked so hard to safeguard for their students’ well-being. I am fully aware that each one of us, simply longing to see the children we miss so much, unwittingly carries with us the risk of illness, the threat of contagion.

college students
I will miss meeting my daughter’s friends at Parents’ Weekend. (Twenty20 @edalainejoy)

I cried when I found out Parents’ Weekend was cancelled

But still I cried when I found out our daughter’s college had cancelled Parents’ Weekend this year due to COVID-19. It was to be my very last first Parents’ Weekend with my very last child. I cried because I know what I’ll be missing.

And I cried because I’ll never have this opportunity again. I remember how incredible it was to visit our freshman son that first Parents’ Weekend a few years ago. Even though he’d only been out of his childhood home for a few months, I could sense the change in him. He was pulsing with energy and curiosity. There was a certain maturity about him. The sight of him in his new surroundings thrilled me in ways that are hard to describe.

He was stunning.

When Parents’ Weekend came around again the following year, our sophomore gently explained he simply had too much work to spend time with us. So we scheduled an alternate “Parents’ Weekend” for a few weeks later. And of course it was wonderful to see him then. Although to be honest, we really did not see that much of him at all.

And I understand. I get it. I remember the excitement of welcoming my own parents to my college campus my first year. And I remember finding it more difficult to spare the time for those visits with each successive year. There were exams to study for, meetings to attend, friends who also required my attention. Life got busy. Priorities changed.

I know how special that first Parents’ Weekend can be

So I know all too well how uniquely special that first Parents’ Weekend truly is; when it’s still all so new. When we’re still missing each other so much. That’s why I cried when I found out my daughter’s college had cancelled Parents’ Weekend. It seems fairly trivial. Rather small in comparison. Certainly we’ve all missed out on much bigger, more important things.

I know our kids missed out on graduations and proms. Young couples missed out on weddings they had planned for months, or years. Families missed out on opportunities to celebrate together. And grieve together. Right now we’re grateful our daughter will even have some limited in-person classes at the college she’s dreamed of attending for so long.

These days there are no guarantees.

I need this weekend more than my daughter did

But I think part of me needed that last first Parents’ Weekend. Maybe I needed a definitive date on the calendar when I knew I’d see her next. Maybe I needed to observe for myself how she’s acclimating to life in her new home that’s not our home. Maybe it matters more to me because my daughter is attending my alma mater—the women’s college I attended decades ago—fulfilling a dream I had for both of us the moment the doctor shouted, “It’s a girl!”

Or maybe it’s that I’ve done this before, and I’ve learned this simple truth: by next year that visit will mean so much more to me than it will to her. For 18 years we teach, and guide, and support, and love our children. We dream about them, and for them. And we do it all so one day they will have everything they need to leave us, and create lives of their own. This is what we want for them. And it’s what we want for ourselves as well.

But it’s hard. It’s hard to see them go. It’s so very hard to stay behind. And if something makes that transition easier and lessens the sting, something like a weekend filled with countless campus tours, mediocre cafeteria food, and the chance to see my daughter shine, then I won’t apologize for
being sad when it’s cancelled.

This year I’ll be missing Parents’ Weekend almost as much as I’ll be missing my youngest child.

More to Read:

Popular Face Masks for Teens and College Students We asked our Grown and Flown community and here are their favorites.

College Care Packages from Home: 50 Great Ideas Here are some of the most popular college care package ideas.

About Cheryl Gottlieb

Cheryl Gottlieb Boxer resides in New Jersey, where she micromanages a husband, her teenage children, and a confounding cockapoo. Her writing has appeared in The Mighty, Grown & Flown, Kveller, Her View From Home, Parent Co. and Sammiches & Psych Meds. You can also find her on Facebook at nosickdaysformom.

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