We’re in the final stages of the final countdown here now, y’all. Tomorrow morning we’re hauling our three giant suitcases to the plane and heading up to New York. And I’m going to confess that for a minute this week, I turned into this woman: scrolling through Pinterest images of elaborately organized college dorm rooms, watching YouTube videos of dorm hauls, and reading “What I Took to College” blog posts. (Every post says “You only need these five things” but the five things are always different).
I snapped out of it when I sent Charlotte a text from work with an elaborate plan involving bed risers and Ikea dressers repurposed into under bed storage and received the following response, “I don’t need any more drawers. They aren’t needed or allowed.” I’m not sure I completely buy that, but I got the underlying message: your overzealous help is not needed or allowed.
Time to back off. To help me actually follow through, here are the steps I’ll be taking to help me remember my role in her journey.
Remember this is her college experience, not mine. This isn’t my opportunity to finally have the college dorm room I always wanted or to be the involved mom I always wanted. She will make the room she wants and that room will evolve as she does. This isn’t about me.
Someone (Me) Needs to Keep an Even Keel. This is an emotional weekend for us both. My daughter is going to be alone in a big city 1000 miles from home. She comes from a southern family who went to state schools and then never left the state. I couldn’t be prouder of her, but not only does she have no role models, there’s no Aunt Martha in Connecticut to call if she needs help or in-person guidance. I loved this article in The Onion for its spot-on depiction of what I’m going through, but I need to remember that this is how it ends:
At press time, sources reported that Molly was channeling her overpowering fears about soon being on her own and without her mother’s unwavering support into petulantly sulking in the electronics section.
Parent Different. (With apologies to Apple and grammar purists everywhere.) This is my new motto. We’re partners now. In a non-confrontational way, I need to make sure she understands my expectations. This isn’t a cultural year in New York City, this is college and an expensive one. She needs to focus first and foremost on her grades. Other than that, I am available for advice, but I. Will. Not. Offer. Unasked. For. Advice. (Yes, cynics, I know I’ll make mistakes. But this is my goal.)
Celebrate. Sometime on Sunday evening, I will be in a hotel room and my daughter will be in her dorm room. I will have had successfully raised three children into amazing adults who don’t live with me. I can’t tell you how proud I am of all three of them. And how awestruck I am at who they’ve become. And how astonished I am to have reached this point. I plan to have a glass of wine, or maybe even champagne, with my sweet, patient husband who has been living all summer with two women on the edge of a nervous breakdown, and toast myself.