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As the parent of a college-bound child, my husband and I did
everything within our power to help him find a campus that was the right fit
academically, socially and geographically. Once he made his selection, we hit
the stores, determined to outfit his dorm room with all of the essentials
required to make it a home away from home.
As The Big Farewell
approached, my dread grew exponentially with his excitement. After moving him
into his room and making his bed for one last time, we finally said our goodbyes.
Turns out he and his roommate aren’t destined to be the compadres my son thought they would be.
Not wanting to rain on his long-anticipated independence day
parade, I bit my quivering lip and wished him well. Then, I did what any other
self-respecting mother would do: I bawled in the privacy of my car.
As I was dabbing my nose, I watched him scamper off with the
rest of the “newbies,” bound for a week’s worth of fun activities designed to
acclimate them to the campus and keep them from feeling the pangs of
separation. Since our son had been on dozens of camping trips throughout his
scouting career, some lasting as long as two weeks, my husband and I didn’t
think twice about his ability to manage on his own.
His first few phone calls home were brief. He was always too
busy to talk, diving into his classes and meeting new people. At one point he
even blurted out, “I’m probably going to stay here over Thanksgiving break.”
So, imagine my surprise when he called us a couple of weeks
“I want to come home.”
Confused, I asked, “For this coming weekend?”
“No. For good.”
It felt like the floor dropped out beneath me. My mind
raced. I groped for the right thing to say. I decided to start with the basics
and asked what was going on.
Turns out he and his roommate aren’t destined to be the compadres my son thought they would be,
I tried to be empathetic. “No, you’re right. Late night
video game playing and sleep do not mix.”
I suggested earphones for the roommate and earplugs for my
son. His reply? “We tried that already.”
I prodded him for more examples. Struggling to think of any,
he simply repeated, “I want to come home.”
Short of squeezing myself through the phone lines so I could
hug him and tell him to hang in there, I came up with a game plan.
First, I urged him to give it one more month. By then, I
figured they would have to establish some respectable boundaries and routines
that would enable the both of them to interact civilly, if not amicably.
Second, I suggested that he branch out and find other
friends that had similar interests and study habits.
Lastly, I let him know it was OK to consider getting a
single room in the future if it should come to that.
Popping a batch of his favorite cookies in the mail, I included
a note reminding him that Thanksgiving break would be here before he knew it. Who
knows? Maybe spending a week at home will remind him why he wanted to go away
to college in the first place. Time will tell.