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College Prep Triggers Mom's Emotions

Posted by on Oct. 12, 2012 at 8:59 AM
  • 11 Replies


College Prep Triggers Emotions For Mom


On January 10, 2007, I wrote a newspaper column that described how I freaked out when it was a year away from my son Jack’s bar mitzvah. A series of articles followed that described all the emotions that I experienced during this sacred rite of passage into adulthood.

  • Will he learn his Torah portion?
  • Will he feel closer to God?
  • How do we fit Hebrew school into an already crazy hectic schedule?
  • Who will be invited to his party?
  • Should I splurge on lox at the kiddish luncheon even though he doesn’t eat anything but plain bagels?
  • Will I find outfits for the entire family that coordinate with his necktie?
  • Will I be able to get through my speech in front of a congregation without weeping uncontrollably because my heart is bursting with pride?
  • Will I ever be able to walk again because my new high heels are too tight and my feet are killing me?
  • Will he finish his thank you notes by the time he gets his driver’s license?

That was five years ago, and now I feel that same panic again. Only this time I’m emotional because my first child is applying for colleges and he will be leaving home in, gulp, about seven months.


It’s the little things that set me off and make me want to cry. Like the other day, for example, I was at the grocery store and stalked a mom pushing her baby in a grocery cart. Her little one was snuggled inside a plush shopping cart cover, which I never understood because even though her baby is clean the blanket is now full of germs.  Anyway, I pretended to sniff the cantaloupes, but I was really cooing over her daughter’s adorable onesie pajamas and reminiscing how going to the supermarket used to be a field trip before my kids were in preschool and still took naps. When I finally got brave enough to approach her by the potatoes and say, “They grow up so fast, so enjoy this special time,” she must have thought I was a child predator because she ran out of the produce section and pretended to wait in the deli line until I passed by. It brought tears to my eyes. Maybe it was the onions.

Every time I see a mom hold her child’s tiny hand in the mall or balance a kid on her hip, I feel a pang of sadness and emptiness.  Yesterday my 17-year-old son walked to the driveway to get his backpack out of the car so that he could do his homework, and I asked him for a hug on the way out the door. He looked at me like I was nuts. Maybe I am.

I still carry a preschool photo in my wallet of me holding him on my lap because he didn’t’ want to take the picture by himself. Isn’t that the sweetest thing? If I knew I was getting my picture taken that day, I would have styled my hair and not worn an Indian print fleece vest, but whatever. My little guy wore a shy smile and a cute little buttoned down shirt. I carry portraits of him from the next two school years, sitting in a white chair all by himself, his hair full of loose copper curls.  Don’t get me started.

Anyway, I’m trying to hang in there and be strong. And as I wait up for him to get home from work tonight, I will pretend like I don’t miss him already.

What’s your advice for moms like me on how to emotionally prepare for when their teenager goes to college?


by on Oct. 12, 2012 at 8:59 AM
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Replies (1-10):
annie2244
by on Oct. 12, 2012 at 9:42 AM

I think what you are doing is an unhealthy indulgence. You seem to me to be choosing to wallow in your sorrow that you can't turn back time. You can't. Don't choose to do this to yourself. You are robbing yourself of full enjoyment of your present and your future.

Think of it this way: When you are 80, looking back on your life while your kids were preparing to leave for college, at college, at grad school, busy with their adult lives, will you be regretting that you spend those years in sad rumination of what has passed, or smiling fondly at the enjoyment you had embracing all that life offered you in those new life stages?

As Cher said in 'Moonstruck', "Snap Out of It!"  Wear a rubber band on your wrist. Next time you find yourself ready to cry or panic at the thought that one stage is ending, snap the rubber band and say to yourself 2-3 fun things that are ahead for you. You choose your inner dialogue.

atlmom2
by Susie on Oct. 12, 2012 at 10:18 AM
True. I was happy DD went to college. I loved going through the stages. More and more moms seem clinically depressed over kids growing up.


Quoting annie2244:

I think what you are doing is an unhealthy indulgence. You seem to me to be choosing to wallow in your sorrow that you can't turn back time. You can't. Don't choose to do this to yourself. You are robbing yourself of full enjoyment of your present and your future.


Think of it this way: When you are 80, looking back on your life while your kids were preparing to leave for college, at college, at grad school, busy with their adult lives, will you be regretting that you spend those years in sad rumination of what has passed, or smiling fondly at the enjoyment you had embracing all that life offered you in those new life stages?


As Cher said in 'Moonstruck', "Snap Out of It!"  Wear a rubber band on your wrist. Next time you find yourself ready to cry or panic at the thought that one stage is ending, snap the rubber band and say to yourself 2-3 fun things that are ahead for you. You choose your inner dialogue.


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bizzeemom2717
by on Oct. 12, 2012 at 1:49 PM

 I agree with pp's my Ds is enjoying and thriving in his second year of college, this article is a little much and over the top imo.

atlmom2
by Susie on Oct. 12, 2012 at 1:54 PM
These are the mom's that text and call their kid every day or more at college. Not healthy at all.
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elliegrossman
by on Oct. 13, 2012 at 10:37 PM
1 mom liked this

My point is, letting go...its the most important job we have as parents, and the hardest one of all. 


epykpysmom
by Member on Oct. 13, 2012 at 10:46 PM
3 moms liked this

I understand how OP is feeling sad that her son is preparing to leave home and move onto college. I also understand why she is seeking advice on how to deal with this life change. Her son has not yet gone so she has not had the oppty to grow accustomed to him being away from her.  I can understand her being sad that her son is no longer the little one that used to hold her hand; he is now a young man preparing to leave the nest. This is a big life changing event that both of them need to get used to.

Unlike those of us who have already have a child in college and living away from home, she does not yet realize that it gets easier after they are gone for a while.  I totally understand her being sad as that was me in August 2011 when DD first went to college. Moms told me it would be difficult the first couple of weeks but that it would get easier.  It was hard for me to truly understand how that could be, but they were right.  It did get easier.  I managed to find a way to fill the void, found other activities to keep busy,and other ways to bring joy to my life.

I applaud the OP's honesty in her post as it is not easy to admit and openly share feelings like that with people we do not know. I think we "seasoned" college moms could demonstrate a bit more empathy and remember what it was like when our oldest first left the nest.

And, btw, just because I missed my DD immensely in the beginning does not mean that I called or texted her every day. After her being at school all last year and then 3000 miles away for the entire summer, and then back to school again this fall, I still don't talk or text her daily. LoL

suesues
by Silver Member on Oct. 14, 2012 at 9:41 AM
1 mom liked this

I feel your pain my dau picking colleges too

MansfieldMama
by on Oct. 14, 2012 at 11:41 AM

I teach high school, and spend much of my time writing college and scholarship recommendation letters for other people's children.  I give advice and help students prepare for graduation and college.  Students return to visit me and let me know how their college experience is going.  This transitional period is the world in which I live.

All of this helps me to prepare for my own children leaving for college.  I know the ins and outs of applying for scholarships and colleges.  I know what they need to do to do well on the ACT and SAT (I teach a SAT/ACT prep course).  Yet, every now and then something small catches me off guard, and I am overwhelmed by emotion when I think of my oldest son leaving me in a few years.  He's only a freshman, and I want him to be an independant, successful young man, but the thought of him leaving me occasionally knocks me off balance.  I saw his man-sized shoes next to his bed while he was sleeping the other night, and the contrast between his child-like, sweet sleeping face, and his huge, manly shoes made me think about how quicklly time is passing.  I'm so proud of the man he is becoming, but at the same time I want to hold him close for a little longer.  It's a complicated feeling.

elliegrossman
by on Oct. 15, 2012 at 7:17 AM

I find the best way to get through milestone stages in life--and there are plenty of them--is through humor. 


I also recommend every mom getting a dog, if you dont already have one. Pets are not only a great way to teach responsibility to your children, but for me, my apricot toy poodle is my baby who never grows up and doesnt mind when I give her kisses in public. 


Thanks for all your comments mom, keep em coming. It takes a village...

runngcr8z
by on Oct. 15, 2012 at 7:30 AM
I also understand how op is feeling. My son secretly filled out a college app and took to guidance to get his transcript. All by himself. My exhus and I felt left out but it was a huge independent step for him. I keep thinking about when he's getting ready to leave. He has a new baby sister and he gets worried she won't know who he is when he goes and I worry I won't hear from him when he leaves. Lol. My new dau takes up most of my time so my worry and thoughts are at bay a lot of the time... For now.
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