Well, we did it. We made it 18 years and dropped our first-born off at college. There are so many thoughts going through my head about this college drop-off that I realized it was time to write some down. I have three main points I’d like to make.
*Note: this is about college drop-offs, not college drop-outs. That’s a different post. Just wanted to be clear.
1. It feels like yesterday…
First, it’s all true. All those people who tell you “it goes by so fast” and “before you know it, you’ll be taking her to college.” I can remember the day she was born as if it were yesterday. She was so tiny; I was sure we would break her. Then all of the sudden we’re the same size and she knows more about some stuff than me.
2. It’s a good thing!
Now, I love my daughter to the moon and back. But don’t let those tearful moms at college-drop off fool you, there are some really awesome aspects to having your kids leave the nest! So many, in fact, I’ve created a little list for you to refer to when you’re tempted to think you won’t have the guts to actually deliver them to college or boot camp or anywhere but your house.
- You can cook whatever you want, regardless of the aforementioned child’s taste or sensitivities. Have a kid who hates your favorite meal so much you avoided making it altogether? Not any more! Got a daughter who can’t have gluten for various medical reasons (of which you fully support, of course)? BRING ON THE PASTA, CINNAMON ROLLS, AND GLUTEN-FULL BROWNIES!
- Speaking of food, what you see is actually what you get: no more empty milk cartons sitting in the fridge making you think you have enough milk for your cereal when it’s really completely empty! (Unless that’s your spouse, in which case you’re on your own.)
- You now have a spare bed/bedroom. (Although, you will have to clean it first.) Husband snoring especially bad tonight? No problem, there’s a clean, comfortable, snore-free bed down the hall. In-laws coming for a visit? No more sofa bed for them!
- You can find your dishes in the kitchen cabinets, instead of stacked up on your kid’s dresser/nightstand/bed/floor. And bonus – they are actually clean when you retrieve them from the cabinets!
- You can go to bed whenever you want to, without having to wait up for your driving teenager to show his face safely back home. Sure, said teenager may be staying out late wherever he is now, but there’s nothing you can do or say about it anymore. And hopefully, you’ve taught him well enough for him to behave (mostly) responsibly now anyway.
- One less person to pay for means eating out costs less. (Of course, if you’re paying for college your kid is probably eating better than you, these days, so that might cancel this one out…)
- You can drive your car whenever you want, wherever you want, and it will have the same amount of gas as when you last drove it! If you shared a car with your teen, and that car is not allowed on campus (because she’s only a freshman, for example), it’s all yours now, baby! No more unexpected trips to the gas station before work because someone (again, hypothetically, of course) left it on empty…
- You have access to a new wardrobe. Now, for some of you, this is not a happy event. But for me, who is the same size as my daughter, it’s great. She could only take half her clothes and shoes to college so the rest will be pilfered by her sister and me (just until she needs them, of course ;-)).
- Or, if clothes aren’t your thing, you can walk around the house naked. Not saying you will, but you CAN IF YOU WANT! (OK, unless you have other kids, or a roommate who is not your spouse, or live with YOUR parents, in which case none of this applies.)
- You can enjoy the notion that YOU MADE IT! Really! Let me explain…
When you first have a child, everyone warns you, even jokingly, about “the next 18 years.” It’s a common thought that the finish line for parents comes when the child becomes a legal adult and (maybe) moves out. Now, we know this is really more of a checkpoint and less of a finish line because parenting is a life-long journey. But a checkpoint is still a legit and very important thing!
So perhaps the most important reason dropping a kid off at college is a good thing is because you’ve passed that checkpoint of successfully delivering him or her into adulthood! Sure, they might not be able to support themselves financially (yet), but they are on their way! Maybe they still need you to remind them to take their meds or wear their solar eclipse glasses, but they can feed themselves, take care of their own bathroom needs (wasn’t that a fun season), get themselves from point A to point B, make their own decisions, and even vote to decide how to run our country.
This is huge and not to be ignored! So, celebrate! Give your kid a high-five and go eat some pasta! Or walk around naked! Or whatever you want because you birthed someone who is now an actual society-impacting human responsible for her own decisions (be they amazing or dumb, but mostly amazing of course, it’s on her, not you).
3. Never ever lose hope
Finally, part of why I have so much joy about my daughter moving to college is because there were many days (and weeks and months) where this felt like an unattainable goal. We all struggled through the earlier part of her teen years and, as a result, her being able to live independently one day felt impossible. I’m not trying to be funny, we really didn’t know if any of us would make it this far. 🙁
But we did.
I remember when we had her “rising senior” meeting with the guidance counselor and she said, “Well, you’re on your way! From my standpoint, you’re well positioned to transition successfully into college.” After my daughter returned to class, I cried most of the way back to work. Those were tears of joy, because I couldn’t believe we’d actually gotten there and was so overwhelmed with gratitude that we did.
So to all the parents of who aren’t there yet and wonder if you’ll actually make it, don’t lose hope. You may need to adjust your expectations, and perhaps grieve for what you thought might happen, but you absolutely must not give up. I was there. I know. It’s a hard road… Take solace in the fact that so many others have walked similar paths before you and lived to tell about it. Find us. Talk with us. Laugh and cry with us. Because we remember. (And likely even have some PTSD to prove it.) We want you to know how important and worthwhile the journey is. And that you’re not alone.
## If you have crossed this or a similar checkpoint, I want to know – what would you add to my list of top most-awesome reasons to celebrate dropping a kid off at college?!