For those of you with a high school student that will be heading off to college in the fall, how are you doing? It doesn’t matter if it is your first or your last child (or one somewhere in the middle) to go away for college, there will be a range of emotions, that mostly you just have to power through.
Last August, we moved our newly-turned 18 year old son, JP, into his dorm at Sonoma State University, in Northern California. By we- I mean my husband and I, my mom, AND our good friends with their 12th grade son. It was definitely a bittersweet experience, as I could remember my parents moving ME into the dorms at SSU when I was a freshman.
The word for the move-in itself was HECTIC! It started when all 3 vehicles pulled into the lot. Even though we were given some directions on where to park, there were so many cars, parents, and students, and no spots available close to his dorm. That meant we all had to park somewhere different, which made the unloading of the trucks quite unorganized. Basically, everyone just grabbed a box, or a trash bag garment bag, and started making their way to his room. (We did find out where his room was located before we started the unloading process.)
During our many trips back and forth, we met the only unknown roommate and his parents (he knew the other 2 as they all attended the same high school). Leaving the heavy lifting for the others, I started to help my son get through the accumulating boxes and bags by making his bed. (It helped that we had labeled all of the bags, so we knew where to find the sheets!) While I worked on this, the rest of the trucks were unloaded. It did help having so many people. One worked on setting up the printer in the living room, one unpacked all of the snacks into the pantry/hall closet, and my son was able to put all of his clothes into the dresser and closet. Surprisingly, we were done unloading and unpacking in just an hour!
Now at this point, what to do next really depends on your student! SSU offered a parent/new student BBQ that afternoon, but JP didn’t really want to go. He told us that he would be just fine hanging out with his roommates. Taking his lead, we all said goodbye, and actually went to do some sight-seeing along the beautiful Bodega Bay coastline. We did text him a few times throughout the evening to check in, but basically started the giving-him-space-adult thing! We were available then, as we are now, but can’t/won’t pry into all of the details of what he is doing. That is definitely the hardest part of sending your child off to college; you go from thinking you know everything as they are living under your roof, to realizing that you don’t know much, and learning to be happy with the snippets that they do share. (We are pretty lucky though, because our son texts or Facetimes us almost everyday!)
The next day, as we had a 7 hour drive ahead of us, we got an early start. Before we left, we did stop by the dorms for one last hug, and a goodbye. The feeling of driving away and leaving your child behind to start their adult life is overwhelming…so many emotions go through your head! Mostly we as parents just felt excited for his experience…we had done all that we could, now HE gets to make his own path, and learn even more along the way.
*Update: JP is doing well in college. He just started a job at Chick-Fil-A, and picked his on-campus apartment housing for his sophomore year. He continues to make us proud!