My Baby Girl: Off to College for Better or Worse

OMG did I do anything right as a parent???

So my first born is off to college! It leaves me wondering what did she learn from me? What did I forget to teach her, show her or just plain old expose her to? I am not so certain I want the answers to any of those questions… sort of like watching a horror flick and covering your eyes only to peek through your hands for a closer look!

In any event, the product of 18 years of my parenting (ten years under the single parent category) is now out there. I am not sure she is ready, but I know for certain I am!!! Especially the last six months of our power struggle in this household… a battle that never ended formally but perhaps is on hiatus. When all of my friends complained about the heartache and the sadness they were feeling as their child was preparing to leave, I thought you have got to be kidding me. Isn’t your daughter a raving bitch, a moody little shit that can’t be bothered to enunciate when she speaks to you? Instead of asking those glaring questions, I smiled knowingly as if I too was feeling melancholy. It only affirmed the paranoia that I was doing this whole parenting gig wrong. … Why are these people sad? Why does my daughter hate me while these other daughters are spending quality time with their moms getting mani/pedis and shopping for dorm décor???

Was I supposed to be weeping at the thought of my child taking the next step?

One day, thankfully, one of the mothers in our group of NOT-SO-PTA moms was finally honest. I will never forget her telling me—in a hushed voice in the auditorium—how she secretly hoped her daughter would be in the fetal position for two straight weeks upon the start of her college days… She hoped that the little snot missed her so much it was painful. She confided that she had done too much worrying and too much caring about the growth and development of her daughter to care for one more second, and now she just wanted her to GET OUT! Finally, I had a comrade!

But then… those last few days… trying to cram in all of the last minute errands and communication about expenses and explaining for the billionth time why having a car on campus is not going to happen I realized, I am going to miss this girl. OMG, I think I have some more parenting to get done if only she will let me… She wouldn’t hear of it. We continued with the business at hand, and I snuck in some parenting whenever I could, but a voice kept telling me, you are done here, I hope she got it… this is just a crap shoot… hopefully your best was good enough! After all she is an adult (as she so frequently reminds me).

After last minute physicals and prescription refills for asthma medicine and birth control (for her complexion, of course), I pick up a first aid kit for her dorm, and I wonder…

Does she even know when to use a band-aid and when to go get stitches? Will she remember to hold onto her drink at all times while at a party? Does she know how to hydrate properly? Will she stand up for herself if her roommate turns out to be nasty or worse yet, passive aggressive to the point where my kid feels uncomfortable in her own room—a room for which I am paying a high price! Or wait a minute… here’s a thought SHE might BE the bitchy, passive aggressive roommate??? That is doubtful, right? Right?

Please God, tell me I did good as a parent, and she will be OK… no answer. Instead, my mind races and the questions keep rolling out… mostly at 3 AM when I have hot flashes. Then, I wonder are the hot flashes from worry or hormones? God, I worry too much, when did I become my mother? Why can’t I just relax and let this child go and hope for the best?!?!

Here’s another one… Will she ever change the sheets on her bed? I sent her off with two sets although she protested… Who doesn’t appreciate clean sheets???? Will she sort her laundry properly? Everyone knows you wash your towels separately from your shirts or the shirts get fuzzy balls right? Will she always wear flip flops in the community showers? Will she actually use the hamper that cost too much from Bed Bath and Beyond? Will she succumb to the bounty of carbohydrates in the all-you-can-eat cafeteria or will she take special note of the salad bar?

What kind of friends will she make? My child eventually had a nice circle of girlfriends, many of which I thought went under appreciated by her but hey that is me, and I am loyal to a fault so I got over that. Worry comes from noticing her tendency (since kindergarten) to be drawn to the most undesirables in the crowd. I wonder if it is from low self-esteem or just a golden heart that always goes with the underdog… I still do not know the answer to that question, but I hope she figures it out. Do not get me wrong… she does have a heart of gold, and I do not think she has to run with the “in” crowd, but my one hope is that she chooses to hang with kids that have ambition and manners… kids that are smart enough to make both work for them.

OK, so maybe I am putting a whole lot of hope into the crowd she picks to hang out with… maybe that hope is there because if I forgot to teach her some lessons (I am pretty sure I probably f’d her up somehow)… hopefully, those other moms did not forget to teach all of the life lessons and just by hanging around good kids, she will be able to close the gap on the lessons she missed from me.

Learning to Let it go has not been easy. I can sing the song, but it is difficult to walk the walk… although I am sure my daughter would argue. I am not nearly as controlling as she portrays me. If I were controlling, I would not be sending astronomical tuition payments to a Liberal Arts College while she figures it out. My heart quickens while I am biting my tongue and wondering to myself…

Do you make your bed every day? Did you befriend that pretty blond down the hall from you? She looked smart and seemed nice… Are you going to class? Are any of your professors creepers? You know the kind I warned you about! Did you join a club? Are you going to pledge a sorority? Did you get a job on campus yet? So when will you pick a major? When will you decide what you will be when you grow up or more urgently… how will you pay your student loans?? After all, it has been two weeks for Pete’s sake!

Haha I try not to text or call the very second I feel the urge, so for the past two weeks, I have been sporting mittens, which is early in the season even for Buffalo! I did learn how to use Facetime… and only bothered her once!

In the meantime, I will assume all is well with her and that she has taken with her all the lessons I tried to teach her, even if she refused to learn them at the time! Hopefully, she heard me.

Be Responsible, Be Kind, Be Neat, Be Fun, Most importantly, Be YOU!

By the way, I had drinks with the mom-friend that wished her daughter would turn into a drooling idiot… We both cried at the thought of not seeing the little darlings until Thanksgiving!

Photo: ©Amy Ferrari All Rights reserved

Amy Ferrari

About Amy Ferrari

I am a proud mother of 2 children. One is a College Freshman; the other is a high school sophomore. My fiance Jeff has rounded out my corners and always can put a smile on my face and in my heart. I am a reformed dance-mom and swim-mom thanks to my daughter. (I can’t believe I will miss those days!) Currently, I am a hockey-mom, cross country-mom, and tennis mom thanks to my son. (I love a good Cowbell!!!) I am a Physical Therapist, and I am proud to say that I recently finished my doctorate in Physical Therapy. I feel blessed to work with the students at my local school district, ranging in age and grade level, they all have developmental challenges. I love it! Working in a profession that is both challenging and rewarding has kept me on my toes and eager for more. I have done so many different things and helped many different people along the way! I am an avid gardener, handy girl, family gal and holiday hostess! Hosting holiday get-togethers seems to be my niche. I love to travel, hike and cruise the sea shore. On my bucket list: I would like to get into teaching college-level courses in Physical Therapy. I would also like to clean my basement and garage. But not today.

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