See this jacket? I found it in my daughter's closet when I was looking for something of mine. Moms of teenage daughters—you know what I'm talking about. As your bodies become more similar in size, personal items start umm, disappearing. Juss sayin'...Layla might have “borrowed” the black sweater I was looking for, and hoped I wouldn't notice. Or she could have taken in back to school with her. I didn’t find my sweater. But I sure love this jacket.
My baby went off to college fall of 2015. She'd had quality-of-life-altering anxiety since elementary school, especially when she didn't sleep in her own bed. On several occasions, we had to retrieve her from an overnight school trip...or a sleepover at a friend's. So needless to say she was nervous about the transition. Originally, she was all set to attend a school that was nearby. It was a comfort (to both of us), to know she could come home on a weekend once in a while. Or every weekend if need be. But then when she got a late acceptance to a school which had been her first choice, we paused. It was 3000 miles away. She insisted she could do it...fight her fear. I wasn’t so sure.
As launch date approached she was a wreck…which made me a wreck. Not so much my husband, Adam. But I'm....THE MOTHER! We took tuition insurance.
Adam and I had decided, at the suggestion of Layla’s therapist, to hang around for a while after freshman drop off while she hopefully, acclimated. Cut to...panic attack #1... we, as a family, were first in line at the student crisis center, the day before classes started. That tuition insurance looked like it was going to come in handy.
Being in a tiny dorm room with 2 other girls (who couldn't have been lovelier), didn't help. I'm certain they were all feeling the same way: claustrophobic and terrified of losing any semblance of privacy. But they were brave. And sweet. And respectful.
I can’t say Layla actually acclimated by the time we left. Flying back home without her, knowing she was in an on/off state of panic, was excruciating. Coming home to her empty bedroom was unbearable. As it turns out, sending a kid off to college results in growing pains for Moms and Dads too. Nice to know we can still have some.
Luckily, I had my career to keep me busy. My book came out in the spring and I went on a mini tour. Still, my heart skipped a beat with every ring and ding and buzz of my cell. Adam and I were prepared, at any given moment, to text our baby down from 'a ledge' as she hyperventilated into a brown paper bag.
I'm happy to report that at the end of sophomore year my daughter is a different girl. She’s thriving, getting good grades (doesn’t take after me), painting, working as a barista and finding meaningful friendships. With coping skills, her anxiety still lingers but it's not nearly as acute or chronic.
I tell you this because many of you are about to embark for the first time on the same journey and I want to let you know that if you experience a similar drama in all likelihood things will turn around. It's a quantum leap going off to college and some kids need longer than others to adjust. So be patient. Be loving. Be there…even if you’re not actually…there.
I miss my girl terribly when we’re apart. (Doesn't anybody stay in one place any more? Touché, Carole.) She recently announced she's not coming home for the summer. And then she’s off to study abroad in the fall. (I guess she’s acclimated!) And when she graduates she's "moving to NY." (I don't blame her...every young person should experience life in NY.) It just seems like we're spending less and less time together. Because we are.
But to see her smile, even if it’s via FaceTime, and hear her come right out and say "I'm happy, mama,” is like crack to my ears.
Anyway, like I said, I found this jacket in her closet.
It's my new favorite garment. It's soft and cozy, it covers my butt and although it's clean it still smells like her. I think I’ll be living in it for a while. Probably until she reads this blog. And wants it back. :)
Good luck, parents of freshman. I wish you (and your student) a smooth transition.
And if they're having the jitters and could use some encouragement lmk and I will put them in touch with my girl for a pep talk.
Oh and PS, that black sweater I was looking for in her closet? Yesterday I found it in mine. Still in the plastic from the dry cleaners. :(