The College Sendoff!
Today I write to you as a mother. Though I am very familiar with "all things college" it is a different thing when you are dropping off your own "baby" at college, even if they are 6' feet tall. This is round 2 for me. The memories of dropping off our oldest at college are still deeply engrained in my mind which is why I wanted to help prepare any of you who might be walking this road for the first time.
I don't think it is coincidence that the college send off lines up with the Olympics. It is a huge event and the participants need a lot of courage. Though we have spent years preparing for this, it somehow still seems to sneak up on us. This day will take all the strength you have and endurance to finish this race strong.
Here are a few tips that might make this day a winning event for you, and for them.....I am certainly not suggesting it will be easy!
1. Get Your Attitude On! You are going to be the one to set the "tone" for the day. Your student is feeling a little apprehensive as well, so you need to fake it till you make it for their sake. Put on your best lipstick, hold your head high and put a smile on that face. You have prepared your child for this moment their whole life. You will want to remember these last few hours with your student as positive ones, not sad ones. Decide ahead of time to make this a fun, happy memorable event for all involved.
2. Write a letter to leave with them. Since you are setting a positive and excited "tone" for the day, you should leave your heartfelt words written neatly in a letter for after you have gone. Your student can read them when they are ready. They will read this letter over and over and over again, trust me on this. They really do value your words more than you know. I suggest that in this letter you let them know how much you believe in them. To let them know that you have confidence in their future and their ability to succeed will encourage them with a bright hope and future! You can cry all you want while writing this letter, but it will allow you to not make a blubbering idiot of yourself in front of their new friends / peers. Trust me on this one. Leave it under their pillow. Maybe with a pack of Hershey’s kisses.
3. Let them Lead. This is where you officially hand over the reigns. Tell yourself from the moment you step on campus that you are following their lead. This means they make the decisions. Now, this will require every ounce of strength from you. Of course, we all know that “mother knows best” but in this moment, mother has to take a step back. In order for them to become independent, we have to let them lead. It starts here.... in the dorm room. Emotions will be running very high and you will see obvious things that need to be done. Don’t!
4. Plan for things to go differently than you have envisioned. The departure may look much different in real life than it does in your mind. The campus will be crazy crowded, the roommates parents may be lingering in your student’s room too long, ( Remember they are experiencing their own sendoff ) all of the dorm items you brought may not be fitting together neatly etc..... It will be chaos. Both literal chaos and your heart and mind will be a little scrabbled. I mean, how does a parent prepare for dropping off their baby? There is no perfect way to do this, but hopefully these tips will help you know a little more about what to expect. Plan for the unplanned!
5. LET THEM GO! I know that even the sound of those words seem impossible. You can do this. Plan a time to talk to them again soon. Kiss that little forehead one more time. Plaster a smile on your face and say your goodbyes! Make it quick. From here, let them reach out to you next, don’t bug them. Don’t try to parent from afar. Your job is done! Well Done Mama! Think back to your life during the college years. The mistakes you made, they will make them also and more. They need these experiences to make them stronger. Learn to smile and keep that positive “tone” in your voice. Now, take a deep breath and let it all out if you need to. There is no shame in your pain. When you have poured all your heart, soul and prayers into a child, it is only natural to feel every single feeling that is washing over you.
6. CROSS THE FINISH LINE! This is a new start for you too! Celebrate It! Go get that pedicure, have a margarita, whatever you want to do. You just won the olympics. You did it! You crossed the finish line! There is a gold medal waiting for you. When that same unsteady and uncertain student comes home in a few months, you will likely see that an amazing young adult has emerged. The confidence, the pride, the independence they have found in themselves is your shiny gold medal. Just knowing that you made a significant contribution in the life of someone so amazing is enough to keep that smile on your face for years to come. GREAT JOB!