Did my little girl really grow up that fast? Wasn’t it yesterday that I was changing her diapers and singing her lullabies? How time flies. Now, college is just around the corner.
“Mama, is this outfit going to make me look like a nerd?” Allison held a blouse and pants up to get her mom’s opinion. “Well, sweetheart. I don’t know. What do you think?”
Allison sighed and then puffed up. “Mama, don’t give me that crap. Tell me what you think?” Mom stiffened under her daughter’s attitude. She took a deep breath and then let it out. “Ally, you know more about what college kids wear these days than I do.” She paused to let her words sink in. “For what it’s worth, I think the blouse and pants look fine. They highlight your soft skin and your blue eyes.” Allison looked down and turned away, but then turned back toward her mom. “Mama, I’m sorry for biting your head off.” She paused, and then continued, “It’s just…it’s…it’s all so overwhelming. I don’t know.”
Mom gathered her young adult daughter into her arms like she was 10 again, and kissed her forehead. “It’s all right, dear. We’ll get through it somehow, together.” Allison continued to ponder, vent, and vary her mood all over the map. Mom helped her pack, but also active listened her struggling daughter. Allison both couldn’t wait to leave for college, but also was terrified of leaving home.
The day I left for Wake Forest University in North Carolina, ten hours away from my home in suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I remember struggling also. My little Chevy Malibu was packed to the gills, with only a tiny cockpit behind the steering wheel, where I could barely move. Being so far away from home, I only could afford to come home twice a year.
During such times of great transition, as the mom, as the dad, you need to be there for your child. Be there emotionally. Hang on for dear life and active listen all those feelings. The moods, the yelling, the late nights after curfew, the trouble-making, none of that is who your manchild/womanchild is really. Bail them out, literally if need be, but recognize that all is just a phase and not who you’ve grown them up to be. They are reacting to the natural life transition that they both desperately want and also terribly frightens them. If college is just around the corner at your house, hang on. You will all get through it.