11 Things (Good and Bad) about Children Going to College

1. All the Tervis are mine.
2. The sewing room is mine, all mine.
3. So, so, so, many fewer socks to mate (this hasn’t mattered yet because it is not sock season but I am already celebrating.)
4. I feel guilty making a pot of coffee just for me.
5. When my husband is snoring there are so many beds from which to choose.
6. No one declares, “I’m going upstairs to read! TV is dumb!”
7. There may not be less dirt but there is so much less to pick up.
8. There are no 150 pound babies climbing up in my lap for a snuggle.
9. There is no reason to go to Target because there is no one to go with me.
10. Never Ever hearing about high school girl drama ever again.
11. Not hearing from your kids because they love their new lives so much they are happy and independent (mostly).

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the Dark Ages

I had my kids back in the dark ages (1993). I’m both jealous of the modern mom’s life and nostalgic for the past.

Every time I see a modern stroller I want one. Seriously, the strollers of the ‘90s were terrible. An expensive stroller cost $65 and they were made of 95% cheap puffy quilted pastel blue fabric and 5% plastic wheels that dug into dirt. They rarely went straight, the wheels didn’t pivot(!). Each turn involved lifting the handle and spinning the entire stroller. They did not have cup holders, cell phone pockets or rain shields.

Maybe you wait at ballet or soccer practice. Believe me when I say, you have NO IDEA what waiting was like in 1993. We did not have cell phones. Waiting to hear if you can get an “appointment for a sick child today” as my pediatrician puts it, meant being in the house waiting. Repairmen, the bank, your husband, you name it if you were waiting for a call you had to be within hearing distance of the phone. Oh, and the phone was attached to the wall. An entire 8 hour day would have to be coordinated around waiting for that phone to ring.

I’m not sure when Al Gore invented the internet but I do know my kids were in jr high before Mark Zuckerberg brought us facebook. With no internet we had no facebook, email or pinterest. We didn’t have laptops either so no solitaire, Spider or otherwise. The daily snail mail delivery was a highlight so it probably isn’t so surprising that we knew our mailman’s name.

What did we do all day? As you know, motherhood is a test to see how long you can survive boredom. We walked a lot. My neighbor, Patience and I walked with our subpar strollers every morning at 8am. Rain, shine or below freezing.  And again just before the dads came home. We had playgroups. If playgroup means play with the kids on your street while the moms drink tea.

My Bible study group was a lifesaver. Every week I knew I would get 3 hours of free childcare, coffee and time to talk to a group of women. For the next 11 years that Wednesday was a sacred time that no child dare ruin with sickness. I realize now it was like the online forums of today where you meet people and discuss issues only we were actually inside the same room and not a chat room.

Moms had a lot of time to plan and execute the 90’s version of nutritious meals. We didn’t know about kale chips, flaxseed and edamame. But we did bake a lot of bread and make sure our husbands left for work each morning with a great lunch including home baked desserts.

We read a ton of books, children’s and otherwise. Our town children’s librarian knew to expect us several times a week. We did a lot of crafts. Mostly at my house where my oldest had an insatiable appetite for crafting while her daughter was always packing a bag for some imagined adventure.

            We had a great communication system in our neighborhood. If your door was open then your house was open, the kids were awake and ready to play. If it was closed then it was naptime or something was going on.

            There was so much more. The best thing about those days may have been that we shared our lives with our neighbors. We had so much time and no electronic distractions. We knew each other’s children well. Just today Patience called (we have both moved to new houses but still live in the same teeny New England town) and shared news of her oldest. We laughed and remembered her daughter at 4 years old doing just the same things, making plans and dreaming big dreams, going on adventures.  

            Just like you young moms of today, my van smelled like mold. Some days a fig newton and milk in the car seat had to be lunch. Some mornings I lost my Schmidt by 9am. Sometimes we only survived the day by turning on the shower until the tantrum was over (I did the same for the kids on their bad days as well.) In the midst of the Blur and in reality it wasn’t as tranquil and idyllic as it sounds looking back. But I wouldn’t have changed it for the most deluxe Vista stroller on the market.

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college is like preschool

Three  years ago I wrote about the Domestic Enemies of the Mom with Teenagers. As time would have it my kids grew up and my youngest it heading to college in 3 weeks.  I’ve discovered that this time of life has a lot in common with the preschool years.

 

The first day of school: Leaving your child at the first day of preschool college is heartbreaking. You take them to the new room find out where they should hang their coat and where they will take their naps. Then suddenly it is time to leave. How can you leave them? You must hug and maybe cry and turn and walk away. You realize that for that moment until you see them again you will not know what they are doing or if they are happy, sad, miserable or on top of the world.

 

No one will understand them: As you leave your child at prescho  college you want to explain to the teacher roommate who they are, they are quirky, hilarious, spunky, moody, beautiful,  confident, scared, brilliant. How can you sum them up in a few quick words to make others understand them when you are gone? You just spent 18 years getting to know their every mood, facial expression, and need. You can look across the room and know that they are raging inside and need to be rescued but now it is time for you to leave them with people who don’t know them and there is no way to explain, no time to express how lucky they are to meet your child.

 

Will they have remembered their manners: Be nice to others.  Share.

Eat breakfast. If you don’t want it repeated, then don’t say it. You are too young for a boyfriend, Enjoy getting to make the best girlfriends of you life.  Clean up after yourself. Have fun but remember classwork comes first. Respect your teachers.  Make sure your shirts cover your boobs and your skirts are closer to your knees than not.  Eat healthy. Exercise. Make friends.

 

Encourage them that it will be fun. You tell them about all the new things they will learn at school.   Try out the finger painting station, create in the craft area, read the books, play outside, tryout for teams, join clubs, go to concerts, drink coffee late at night, watch Dr. Who, stay up all night before finals, discuss ideas, think big.

 

Be safe: Do amazing things, explore, drive to LLBean at 1am just to see if it is really open, eat a grand slam breakfast at Denny’s, yell until your voice gives out but don’t walk home alone, get lost or be reckless.

 

Remember I always come back:  When you need me I am here.  Always, anytime, and forever. And more importantly, and what I forgot when I went to college, remember that mom is home wanting to know what you are doing.  How is your day going? Who have you met? What are your classes like? What are you eating? Do you love it or hate it or both. Check in with me because although you didn’t borrow my clothes when you left for college you did take my heart.

 

 

 

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Boobs

i have huge boobs. 40J. That is not big, it is huge. Small boobed women complain and wish for bigger boobs.They are wrong. There are no draw backs to small ones. If you aren’t filling out a dress then you can add a cutlet. I can’t tuck mine under my armpit and look smaller.

They choke me when I lay down. They catch any food I drop and ruin my clothes. They reach over the table at a booth and i just don’t fit. Clothes that fit over my boobs hang off my shoulder. They make me snore. My bras cost $65.

that’s all. just the rant of the day.

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Lost post.

Hopefully, I can rewrite the entire post I just lost and thrill you all with my wit soon.

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FirstBorn Goes To College

We finished shopping for all things college. Trash cans, clocks, fans ,washcloths, hangers, graph paper, plastic containers, underwear, picture frames, sheets, towels, laundry detergent, socks, power strips, extension cords, softener sheets, computer locks, …

We took off in two cars, FirstBorn and Boyfriend in one car, Grillman and myself in the other. Of course the entire country was headed for the campus, and although you can check in between 9 and 3, they all arrived at 6am. As we sat in traffic, on the campus, with hundreds of cars behind us, WE GOT A FLAT TIRE! Not kidding. At this point we were in the Quad area, in the center of everything that was happening, hundreds of cars, thousands of people, with a flat tire. I pulled out of line, knowing that TPTB were not going to like it but what else could I do? My mind immediately pictured my husband, in 92 degree weather, in the center of the universe, changing a tire and realized the day was ruined. Ruined in a way that Rory Gilmore’s day was ruined when she missed the Shakespeare test, ruined like Snow White’s day was ruined when she met the produce lady, ruined like the corned beef on the St. Patricks Day when my sister forgot to put water in the pot and cooked it dry for 5 hours. But magically, a young lady with a clipboard arrived in seconds, in a chipper voice she explained that I had a flat tire and SHE WOULD CALL SOMEONE TO FIX IT! Again, not kidding. Suddenly, someone arrived and began to change our tire, then more people arrived with bottles of ice cold water for the tire changer and my husband. I thought that possibly it was all a dream but no, my daughter may have started at the best school in the universe.

After that what could go wrong? Every box, duffle back, laptop, refrigerator, and laundry basket was whisked out of the car and up to her room by a herd of frat boys in about 13 seconds flat. Amazing. Apparently we are having a magical day where nothing can destroy the happiness of leaving your child at a place filled with 6,000 strangers who probably want to do her harm.

As FB and BF went to get her registered and stand in lines I began to organize her room. Her roommates arrived and were sufficiently interrogated so that over lunch I could privately fill her in on their deepest secrets. FB would never ask them the most important questions and would therefore be shocked later to find out that one of them is a LARPer and the other a gorgeous, atheletic, wonder girl that sews all her own clothes and is currently pre-engaged to her boyfriend, a 21 year old plumber from NJ. (Not familiar with LARPers? Check it out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZ04mfAY2BU ).

Of course, in a way, her roommates resemble my first college roommates. I went to a very small Christian college. Roommate number 1 lasted one term. She was a Black Sabbath lover, who decorated her side of the room in black light posters and a giant stereo. My side was an ode to Kliban Cat. Her boyfriend carried a plastic “bloodied” hand around with him that he claimed was Satan’s hand. I had never heard of Black Sabbath and had actually never owned a record album. Roommate number 2 lasted one semester also. She was a 18 year old beauty that left every night at 10pm with her 33 year old boyfriend name Buzzy, and returned each morning at 7am to sleep until the afternoon. I was so worried about her that I would get her assignments and do them, in addition to mine so that she would not fail. Eventually, her flagrant disregard of chapel attendance caused her to be expelled.

So, here I am 3 days later. She hasn’t called. She has briefly texted brief replies to my completely non-probing texts. If part of college is about growing up, I think the first thing she needs to learn is that moms need to feel needed, and we need blow by blow accounts of their day in order to sustain our sanity. So grow up, FirstBorn, I’m waiting to hear from you!

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Precious is coming home.

Tomorrow is Saturday, but more importantly, Precious comes home from 3 weeks at camp.

She spent her first two weeks in a leadership training program and the third week she was a regular camper. Her last chance to be a camper at the most wonderful place on earth. Next year, after 2 more weeks of training she may be offered a position as a counselor. A dream 9 years in the making.

The counselor training program is quite rigorous, exhausting and fun. Not only do they learn all about how to keep campers safe, teach them important skills like sailing and making silver clouds on a campfire, but she has to be there to meet their needs in the middle of the night. That moment when you are 7 and realize that you are in a cabin in the woods of Maine, and your mom is back at your house and you won’t see her for a week. You spend two weeks living in close quarters, smelly, dirty and possibly buggy, with the other CILT girls, forming bonds and making memories that only you will understand.

I mentioned it is the most wonderful place on earth, this camp, in the woods, on a hill, beside a lake, in Maine.  I’m not exaggerating. I have sent my girls off to this haven for the last 10 years for a week or 2 or more and each year, crying on my way home, worried about my babies. Knowing they will have the time of their lives, shooting arrow and bullets, sailing, kayaking, singing silly songs and laughing 24 hours a day, I’m not sure why I  cry, maybe it is the middle of the night when you wake up and realize you are a mom at home and your child is sleeping in a cabin in the woods of Maine.

This camp is the only camp of it’s kind in New England. First of all only girls attend this camp. This means the girls can get as dirty and grungy as they want, be as silly and tough as they want, make as many fires and go on as many swamp walks as they want without thinking for a moment about boys.  There are other all girls camps in NE but New England Camp Cedarbrook is the only one that is Christ focused. The girls come to a place of retreat, where they can discover and question, who God is. Some have never been to church in their lives, others find their faith to like breathing.  No matter where they are at, they have the chance to see God in the nature, in the all out fun He intended us to have, and through the times set aside for worship and exploration of His word. Without exception, my girls have always counted down to the first day of camp.

So Precious comes home tomorrow. She will be stinky and exhausted.  She will come back home where nothing ever happens, after continuous days of activity.  She will see her newly painted room, exclaim over the newly painted furniture and deposit pounds of camp laundry in the basement. She will facebook friend a dozen new friends she has met and text Boyscout to say she is back. It is none too soon for me.

I have missed her constant singing. I have missed her summer morning question of the day, “Where are we going today?”.  I have even missed the hum of her texting.

This next week she will be my ally as we pack up Firstborn for college and try to imagine our life as a near family of three. Is she ready for the intense scrutiny she will be under as the only child at home? Who knows.?

Mostly, I am excited that she will be here again in our house, sharing her life with us, giving us her point of view on everything, making us roll our eyes at her crazy schemes and adventures and just being Precious.

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