Or...they forget to pack their underwear. Or...they've never operated a washer on their own and don't wash clothes until said clothes are able to walk to the washer in self defense. Or what if they starve to death because they hate the dorm food? Or if darling daughter needs thousands of dollars to pay for therapy after gaining the dreaded freshman 15 and her skinny jeans don't fit? And maybe some professor will say something mean to them...or they'll forget an assignment is due because you're not there to remind them.
Yes, those things MAY happen (except the therapy. I was kidding about that). And your kiddo will do some growing up. And it will hurt your feelings as much as it hurts theirs! And you, dear parent, will need to cope as much as they do.
Since I am a very practical person, here are a few tips that have helped me to cope. First, sit down with your kiddo before move in day and set some parameters. For our son, each time he went back to school, he would send texts every day or two stating that he was still alive...for a week or two. That gave me time to adjust to his departure. Daughter (who is currently in college) generally calls or Facebook messages every day. Our son really wanted to establish his independence, but as I told him, I had been "mothering" for 18 years and couldn't quit cold turkey. And (this is VERY important), stick to your end of the bargain. If you can do that, they WILL call when they need you.
There are a few things you can do to mother "long distance".
- Let them be adults. You are now "hero support". You have spent 18 years getting them ready for this. They can do it. Let them!
- With regard to any forgotten items, such as the missing underwear--Amazon delivers...as does WalMart and any other retailers. Please don't mention to the other parents at orientation that your kiddo forgot to pack something, just arrange for it's arrival and you will be Super Mom!
- If your kiddo is not used to operating household appliances, write the instructions for operation in a notebook. Once written, trust that your young adult can take it from there. This includes instructions to not wash reds and whites together lest you have a closet filled with lovely pink items. This way they have access to your wisdom at any time of the day or night.
- Leave (or arrange for delivery) of a "Dr. Mom box". We all know that you never feel as sick as you do at 3 a.m. I always wrote the symptom (on an index card or in the notebook that you're writing your other advice in) and then the over the counter med that solves their problem. The corresponding medicine should be in the box. My daughter calls this box "a hug from Mom". Provide meds for all the likely illnesses and general first aid. Don't forget to provide for all of the symptoms discussed in the Pepto Bismol commercial. Your kiddo may scream "Moooooommmm", but they'll thank you if the change in diet doesn't agree with them! For example
- Stuffy Nose--1 Sudafed every X hours, use saline nasal spray as needed.
- Give your kiddo a "mail box" with stamps, return address labels, and greeting cards. You may also want to include address labels for Grandma or anyone else they may want to send a card. Don't forget to give them a list of family birthdays.
- Mail matters. Even if you talk to your kiddo every day, they love getting something that isn't a bill in the mail. Drop a fun card in the mail every so often. (Hint: my mother mailed the first card BEFORE we left for move in day, because she knew I'd be lonelier than I thought I would be) And don't forget to send a treat if your kiddo has a tough week ahead, such as midterms or finals. We usually provide pizza money, but my kiddo is off campus.
- Provide basic cleaning supplies. And while you may prefer scrubbing on your hands and knees, a swiffer has a better chance of actually being used. 😄 We like cleaning wipes, swiffer clothes & mop handle (dusting/sweeping and damp mopping), daily shower spray and a simple vacuum (if your kiddo has roommates, you may not need to provide the vaccum). Don't forget the dishwashing soap!
- Don't forget close friends. Our daughter is involved in a small campus group. I usually provide Silly Putty for them all at exam time, because it is fun to beat up on and mash while you study.
- Don't forget to pray for them, each and every day!
And lastly, be available for what your kiddo wants/needs. I am the preferred paper proof reader. I do not understand the topic being discussed in daughter's papers (she's in a STEM major), but I can check for sentence fragments and spelling errors. She also likes lunch/shopping days. For our son, we took him out to lunch, and helped with emergency car repairs. It's different parenting an adult, but with a little practice this stage of life is a LOT of fun!
Feeling blessed, how about you!