“The last step in parental love involves the release of the beloved.”
Easy words to read; difficult words to carry out in practice. Parents all over the country are preparing for their offspring moves to colleges and residence halls. Roommate assignments are arriving. Shopping trips for new bedspreads, stacking crates, power strips, and non-marking tape are flooding local Wal Marts and Bed, Bath & Beyond stores. (Add this to the unaccounted for “college expenses” ledger.) In between, in the quiet moments, both parent and kid may be feeling the bittersweet moments of moving forward. While college has been a lifelong goal, the reality that move in day is weeks away, not decades, can seem sudden.
There are the promises of Facebooking regular updates. Texting everyday. New Skype accounts being established. There are the brave fronts with other parents, “I’m so excited for my son/daughter! It’s going to be an adventure. I can’t wait for it to start,” while the listener secretly wonders how the other parent is managing to keep it together long enough for the words to come out in a full sentence. Yet, hope abounds, to seemingly ease any nervousness from the impending change.
Colleges are also aware of these same conflicting emotions. Some hire current students to be “parent bouncers”, to gently remove parents at the end of move in day from the residence halls and out to the parking lot. Other colleges organize elaborate ceremonies that line up students along the pathway to the gates of campus, who clap and cheer as their parents parade past and walk off-campus to their cars.
A parent once described feeling comforted knowing she was on a path that was well worn by other mothers in front of her, yet, still was nervous. I asked her to look around and know that even though there’s a light ahead, the light also shines on the broken branches of bushes and trees beside the path, where occasionally those same mothers in front of her had to let off some steam. The transition may look different for each parent and family, yet, is a shared by many.
Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, is a University of California and Harvard trained educator and Partner at Creative Marbles Consultancy. You can contact Jill at firstname.lastname@example.org or, read her short biography.