Dropping my firstborn off at college may have been way harder than I expected, even though I’d been anticipating it all year, but one month on, I’m here to report that the aftermath has been both more heartrending than I anticipated in some ways, but also a pleasant surprise. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
1) You will have less laundry, but more leftovers
2) You won’t need to buy as much food at the grocery store, or order as much at restaurants, and this will make you inexplicably sad
3) Their bedroom will look too tidy, so you will need to keep the door closed, to avoid feeling bereft
4) You will send crazy texts reminding them not to stand on balconies at frat parties, and worry about them cycling without a helmet, even though that’s exactly what you did all four years at college, and your parents never said a word
5) You will also send videos of dogs vomiting at the prospect of a new baby in the house, telling yourself it’s a good way to stay in touch, but also because you share the same juvenile sense of humor
6) You will miss them terribly, and yet feel an unfamiliar sense of liberty at having one less family member’s needs to attend to
7) Your daughter will sign up for Catholic mass at the Activities Fair because a stranger offered her candy, and you will fight the urge to tell her not to go
8) Parents at your younger daughter’s Back to School night will look a generation younger, and way too involved in their children’s lives
9) You will resist the urge to tell them it really doesn’t matter where their kids are going to college, so long as they’re happy – not necessarily a given, you know from other parents whose kids have dropped out
10) Your relationship with your kid who’s still at home will get closer and more mature, although you will have to resist the urge to defer to them about every decision, especially related to dinner
11) Your relationship with your husband will get closer, even if it involves being gentler with each other, rather than lots of wild sex (although that may happen too).
Postscript: As I was writing this article, my husband was watching a Ken Burns documentary about the Civil War on TV (I told you he was wild), and I overheard the narrator reading an excerpt from a letter from a mother to her Union soldier son, warning him not to engage in too much card-playing, because she feared that might only lead to gambling. Some things never change.