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Moms Talk: Are You Ready to Send that Kid to College?

A thousand feelings may accompany the departure of a child leaving home, especially when it's the first time.

Last weekend, I spent some time with a friend whose daughter is heading off to college, after graduating this June from a nearby high school. A happy time, in many ways, but undoubtedly more than a bit nerve-wracking for both.

Having never lived in a dorm, (although I did live in an apartment about a half-hour from my home base for a good portion of my time in college) I really can't say too much of what it feels like from the student's point of view.

Nevertheless, I remember sending off my first son to college, in Charleston, S.C., following his graduation from in 2007. I was happy for him, but we were both on edge.

My friend (and I) were worrying about our offspring, but the college-students-to-be seemed unconcerned. Or were they?

Students — what are you really thinking?

When I left my son behind — and Charleston is a pretty far hike from New Jersey — I had a feeling I might never see him again! Of course I did, and had many enjoyable visits leading up to a final graduation trip.

As a note, at first he acted like he didn't care as much if I showed up, with his brother in tow. But later on, he was more openly happy to see us. (Hey, we provided some free meals out, and always threw in a few more percs, too!)

And will it be harder/easier when, presumably, that baby in the family leaves the nest?

If you're packing up — something that got more routine for us in following years — do you feel you are providing your student with what they need?

Are you planning on touching base all the time? Or trying to leave them some space?

And for those whose students may be heading off to college locally, even while remaining at home for now, do you still feel they are crossing a bridge into adulthood?

Please let us know what you're thinking at this time of year? And students...will you kind of miss your family?

P.S. BTW, that student who went off to college. He's baaaack. But that's a whole other topic.

Colleen Epple Pine August 20, 2012 at 11:46 PM
The following poem helped our family make light of this emotional milestone in our lives, and I hope it might help you also! Simply change the parts that pertain specifically to your son or daughter to personalize it as I have done. Then, tuck it under a pillow or somewhere in your child's dorm for them to find once you have left. Good luck during this very bittersweet time. [Note: The poem is being sent in 3 sections since it will not fit in one comment on The Patch] ‘Twas the Night Before College Original Poem by Cheryl Janus and Personalized Edits by: Colleen Pine ‘Twas the night before college and all through New Jersey, Every new freshman’s nerves were sure topsy-turvy. Mom and Dad loaded the SUV with great care, And wondered how in the world the stuff all fit in there! The high school diploma hung on the wall by the bed, And instead of sleeping, no freshman rested their head! Mom in her college t-shirt and dad in his GMU hat, Had just settled down for what was barely a nap! When outside the window the sun rose so bright, It seems like the jitters kept us all up last night! Then out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, We jumped to our feet to see what was the matter! It was Tina so happy to wake us all up, To help say goodbye, our dear Golden Pup. It was time to depart, pet the dog one last time, Time to head to GMU, time to drop off a Pine.
Colleen Epple Pine August 20, 2012 at 11:47 PM
Soon we’ll arrive to the freshman’s residence hall, Decorated with balloons and bunk beds so tall! Dad parked the car alongside the curb, And volunteers wearing staff shirts came with a warm welcome word! With smiles on their faces they went right to work, Carrying boxes upstairs—a really nice perk! When all of a sudden, guess who did appear? A new roommate, a freshman, with a smile ear-to-ear! You’ll introduce yourselves and the parents will too, And you’ll chat and unpack and laugh at everything new. Your parents will think: “We’re a great Mom and Dad” and the thought of your new journey will make them feel glad. Dad will stay focused, checking hot water and heat, While mom remains busy tucking in a twin sheet. As the day moves on, there will be no time for crying, We’ll be moving furniture and be local store buying. But soon it will be time to say our goodbyes, And we may just have to hold on to those tears in our eyes. It’s time to let go, to go with friends out to dinner; Dad wishes you well and mom says: “You’re a winner!” And back to the car all parents will go, While the freshman walk away with new people they know.
Colleen Epple Pine August 20, 2012 at 11:47 PM
Everyone felt scared, it all was so new, But soon you’re all family at the big GMU! Sure some will feel homesick, and that is okay, But parties and ball games will get in the way. Freshman don’t give up, they just keep themselves busy, And the Fall Semester will fly by fast in a tizzy! Just think, soon enough, you’ll be home for a break, And then back to school—there’s still more friends to make! We’ll hesitate, then turn, and say one last goodbye, And with pride in our eyes, we will not need to ask why— Why our daughter has blossomed into a beautiful bouquet? It was clear now, our daughter, is a woman today. We’ll hug, then depart and as we drive out of sight, Hear us call out: “We love you more…have a wonderful night!”
Linda McGuirl September 12, 2012 at 01:05 PM
I have sent all 3 of my children off to college & it is a bittersweet moment every fall. My oldest graduated last year & is now working and living at home. I don't get to spend a lot of time with him, but I love that he is here at home with us. He started his college days in S. Carolina & it was so hard to let go and say goodbye. I still get a pain in my heart thinking about it. My middle son was recruited to play football at a school in CT so we knew we would see him at every game in the fall. The fact that we would have a new circle of football friends was exciting for us, but still it was another separation that I was unprepared for. He is now a senior enjoying every moment of college life knowing his college days will be over soon. My baby girl began college last year at a college in Mass. She is a sophomore now enjoying living with her new best friend. Saying goodbye to her filled me with mixed emotions. Like her brothers, it was a big step for her, one that would allow her to grow and become more independent. I was excited for her but also worried that she would miss home. I tried my best to be strong for both of us, but it was & is still is a great loss for me. With the last child leaving the nest my husband & I had to face the fact that we are moving out of the child rearing years and onto a new chapter in our lives. We had been raising children for most of our adult lives & we loved it. It is a grieving process that we are still working through together.
Linda McGuirl September 12, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Well done! Thanks for sharing this clever poem! I loved making their beds! I guess it was one of the few things left that we could do for them.
Colleen Epple Pine September 12, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Thank you for your kind words, Linda McGuirl! I will pick your brain for some empty-nester wisdom as the time comes next year...a new chapter will begin! We are very blessed moms indeed!

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