Lauren Mayer: College, Parents & Tears

It’s a classic rite of passage every fall, parents taking their kids off to college and saying goodbye (after spending way more than they’d budgeted for dorm room essentials like bedding and Starbucks cards).  And it can be an emotionally loaded experience, especially for moms like me who cry at the drop of a hat.  (I tend to weep at the oddest moments, like the first time I saw my son tap dance in the opening number of ’42nd Street’ -that iconic moment when the curtain just goes up enough to see the ‘dancing feet,’ which is one of the most upbeat, cheerful scenes in all musical theatre.  But I digress… )

For many parents, this is their first realization that their babies are leaving the nest, and it can be hard to let go.  But I’m okay with that since I also went 3,000 miles away to college, and I’m thrilled for my son to have that experience too.  The hardest part for me is feeling old – in my gut, I still feel like a college student, but walking around campus, I am clearly part of a troupe of aliens, adults who are irrelevant and unnecessary – and old.  Of course I want to age gracefully, not to be one of those desperate middle-aged women who wear inappropriate clothing and overdo the cosmetic procedures.  (As my hairdresser says, “Bangs, not Botox!”)  But being a parent at a college campus is a huge wake-up call, reminding me that the ‘aging-gracefully’ time period I’d anticipated is actually now.

Plus there’s a heady sense of freedom at a campus – these kids are at the beginning of their adulthood, surrounded by interesting people, with opportunities to develop their minds and to train for their careers, with everything still being possible and nothing out of reach.    No worries, no limits – who wouldn’t envy that?  Fortunately, part of being a college parent is helping my son move into his dorm, and once I looked at the small, unairconditioned room and thin extra-long twin mattress, my envy strangely disappeared.

So this week’s video is dedicated to all parents who are taking kids to college, and all moms who cry . . .


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