Leaving for College: What they don’t tell you

Moms (and Dads), this is for you, as your child leaves for college . . . because someone’s got to tell you.

I’ve read blogs and books about the days before your child launches off to college — and they’ve been really instructive.  But. You know what they don’t warn you about? They don’t warn you about the last few days, when your daughter is saying her good-byes and see-you-laters to all her friends, that she will be heartbroken and try desperately to busy her days with doing and going. And then, when she says “see you later” to her beloved martial arts group that she will come home distraught and almost manic as she tries so hard to deal with such intense emotions — and that she will be up most of the night, trying to calm her nerves — until 3:30 in the morning, when you have to quietly try tucking her back into bed, just like the old days. They don’t tell you about that.

They don’t tell you when you bring that baby home that someday she will leave and she will struggle “so big” as she stretches those wings and that your heart will break as you watch her work so intensely to get off the ground. It’s crazy that they don’t tell you about this.

They don’t tell you that her anxiety can blanket the excitement and it’s up to you to stay strong and calm and not teary-eyed, even though every fiber in you wants to flashback to that day you brought her home from the hospital and it was totally up to you to keep her safe. Now, the world is at her feet – and you can’t strap her into her carseat or hold her hand while she’s crossing the street.

They don’t tell you that your shaky heart during the toddler years when you’d hold your breath a little as she ran off on the playground to that scary slide would be a welcome respite for your earthquake heart today as she heads to that college far-away. They don’t tell you that.

Or maybe — just maybe — you just couldn’t take in all the warnings and tips and advice until you’re standing on that scary and exciting precipice. Maybe, even if you really wanted to hear and listen, you just weren’t ready.  Or maybe you wanted a detailed recipe for her leaving and all you got was an abstract of how it might be.

So . . . as my first born gets ready to leave (tomorrow!), I’m making a list of the things I need to know and remember for when we do this all over again, in two years.  I’m thinking, though, that when the time comes, there will probably be something new to set my head spinning, something that catches me by surprise.


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