Dear Parents of College Students

The Clown Motel

The Clown Motel (Photo credit: Great Beyond)

TO MY CHILDREN: THIS IS KNOWN AS SATIRE. DON’T GIVE ME “THE FACE.”

Dear Moms and Dads of College Students,

It’s been a long summer so I need to start this letter with an apology, I feel so badly for all of you.  Believe me, I am going through the same thing with my two, you are not alone. We are all here in solidarity. I’m writing to you today, on behalf of those of us parents who have been through this for a few years already and we want to forewarn you on the things that might be coming around the corner. We had no one to tell us, and believe us, we wish we had, so here is some helpful information, a guide, as you will, for YOU to get adjusted to college life. Let me put it bluntly: This is a phase after freshmen year usually called: YOU CAN DO NOTHING RIGHT.

After that as your child gets older you will all be; ” AS STUPID AS F**K.  Usually it’s the condescending tone of voice, the eye roles, the groans of disgust and the stony faces that will give you a clue. Now? You see them huddled over their computer screens not even acknowledging your presence. “Huh, what, did you say something.” The only question I get asked (think back to grade school) is “What’s for dinner?” What happened to manners? What happened to “NO TEXTING AT THE TABLE?” What happened to “can I help?”

We know nothing, our advice (unwanted) is not listened to and who asked us anyway? Face it people WE JUST DON’T GET IT.  The kids are not “home” they are here to stay as if they were staying at a MOTEL and you, mom and dad are the full-time, 24/7 concierge. What? You didn’t get that message from the college newsletters? Oh, well, right, it’s ASSUMED. Duh.

College students know much more ABOUT EVERYTHING than we do because basically WE KNOW. NOTHING. We are the “older generation” and people like us, well, we just don’t know the same things that they which they have practically learned in training pants. “Sigh (in a condescending tone)  I’ve shown you this on the computer three times already” “I know, I say sheepishly but I forgot, it’s not my fault. I have NO short-term memory.” I beg pathetically.  Deep heaving and annoying sigh, “Oh fine, mom, I’ll show it to you ONCE more but write it down.” At this point, embarrassed and demeaned you say, “Never mind, I’ll google it.” which is what you should do in the first place or called Apple even if you are on hold for two hours. Some things WE need to learn, this is one of them.

Who are these strange grown-ups dropping in at our home? I don’t recognize them this time, I don’t even know their friends who are sleeping in our family room. We want to make our kids happy so of course we say yes to their grown-up sleepovers. My gosh, we are not living in our home anymore, we have become a bed and breakfast, lunch or dinner. More likely, we have become a free-motel. Our warm, compassionate kids have become distant and aloof and self-involved while they haven’t stopped for a second to think about us. Why? Because we don’t exist except to pay the bills and welcome their friends with a smile.

The question begs to ask “who are we?” We are just the same old Mom and Dad that haven’t really changed much compared to their quick minds and independent thoughts. We’re stuck in the mud, while they zoom off to have fun with their new friends, to study what they want and to pop back here to see their old friends when it is convenient for them. We are no longer part of the equation, well, ok, maybe at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Once you accept it, it gets SO much easier.

It’s almost time for them to leave, for them to go back “home” to their suites and apartments in college. They have their own cars now. We don’t have to drive them up like the princes and princesses they are. They can unpack by themselves with the help of their suite mates. They will call once a week, maybe more. And, knowing us, we will be there for them at any and every time because that is what parenting children is about, UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.

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Playing “Punch Buggy” Alone Really Isn’t That Much Fun

Volkswagen Beetle

Volkswagen Beetle (Photo credit: stephenhanafin)

On the way to Target by pure instinct alone, I call out “Punch Buggy” when I see a Volkswagon Beetle. I KNOW it’s stupid, I KNOW no one else is in the car but still, I do it. While I get a teeny tiny bit of pleasure, it isn’t as much fun as when my husband is there and we both call it and then childishly say “but we are not playing.” You have to like us if not love us, it’s the little things that matter; we’ve been married almost 24 years, so we must be doing something right. You have to reinvent yourselves with silly, childish games and you know what, it seems to work.

While at Target, I still go to the first two discount aisles where they have little kids things on sale for a dollar each. My children are eighteen years old and twenty. Come on, don’t I know that by now? I am certainly not buying beer magnets or obnoxious T-shits (okay, I did that once) but generally I have good judgment. However, according to my kids I am ridiculously old-fashioned and the fact that I dislike every type of alcohol known to humanity (except for the occasional mimosa when my in-laws are in town) is beyond uncool, it’s just plain wrong. Why am I still looking at the dollar aisle, do I think they need little presents for their “goodie bags?” My children are allowed to vote. Move on, mom.

I still go to the teen boy aisle where they have the obnoxious boy T-shirts that my son used to live for, when he was about ten. Why do I still go there? HE wouldn’t be could dead wearing something stupid now. He has even passed the entire T-shirt phase altogether. He wears button downed shirts, with his sleeves rolled up, maybe a plain, white T-shirt underneath. He likes to look nicer now. Where happened to my son? Who did he learn his new style from or for whom did he learn his new style?

My daughter has had her own sense of style since she was just about born. As soon as she was old enough to dress herself, she did. What I put out for her was replaced by whatever color/ stripe combination or completely purple outfit that she wanted. I never fought with her, except for one school picture and after that traumatic experience and glum expression I let her choose what she wanted to wear any and every day. I lovingly remember her wearing her sky blue, long, Cinderella dress to her nursery school graduation, with my parents and husband in attendance. She felt like a princess (always) and dressed accordingly. To this day, she gives me advice and when she asks me my opinion on something I feel honored. A friend of the family went over to our daughter, when she was 3 or 3 1/2 and said “You look so pretty in that dress” and our daughter’s response was “I know dat.” Meet our girl.

There were times when both kids were living at home and my husband was here all the time that I would long for a day of alone time, peace and harmony. Today was that day. My husband was visiting his parents and both kids are now in college. I could do whatever I wanted to do and you know what? For the first time, I missed my husband. I hate to admit it but I didn’t like eating my crummy slice of tasteless pizza by myself. It was a chore and it wasn’t relaxing. The entire day seemed lonely when before I craved the quiet like a crystal meth addict craves her drug. Times change, people change, be open to it, new things will always happen and surprise you. In time, you will always adjust. You have no other choice.

Old Pain Anew

Pregnancy and blood

Image by ec-jpr via Flickr

Many moons ago

They told me that I probably would never conceive babies.

I was lost inside myself with pain and grief, tears dripped down me like a steady rainfall.

I suffered emotionally and physically, drugs, blood drawn, nightly injections plunged

in to my thigh from my husband.

The pain took over me, possessed me with the sole, solitary routine of sadness and grief.

They told me I couldn’t have babies, that I was barren.

I listened to them every bright sunny day until every dark dismal night for two and a half years.

Those stupid fool nurses and doctors who clucked their heads at my chances were wrong.

When I got pregnant it was the happiest time in my life, I burst with blossoms.

I loved being a glowing pregnant woman sharing a secret with her unborn child

my hand rubbing my tummy lightly in soft circles.

My children were born twenty-one months apart, now 17 and almost 19.

I gave birth to each of them, a blessing, a gift, two presents from G-d.

The years pass too quickly, like a frenzied movie at the wrong speed.

I miss the emotional softness from young children

kisses soft as goose down, sloppy hugs, wet kisses and shiny faces like lit pumpkins.

My son is leaving for college in three weeks

I  realized this pain is very familiar, it is the feeling of loss.

It hurts but I am older now however,

the past, as I know it, is gone forever.

Time moves at a rapid pace robbing us of memories.

They are leaving me, and not turning back to wave good-bye,

I know that they will return but it is a new stage, a turned chapter, a new course.

It is a big change and one that we all may love but tonight, in this instant,

I feel barren, all over again.