This is my wish for you: Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth,
Love to complete your life.
~Christopher Robin as told to Winnie the Pooh
I found this quote (again) just a few days ago and thought it was very apropos for those who are packing cars to drive their sons and daughters off to college for the very first time. It seems that mother’s have prepared for the day when their child leaves the nest the very first day they entered through the kindergarten doors. And for Dad’s … perhaps a wee bit later? And for many, this Fall will mark a new transition for the Moms and Dads – the “empty nest”. (I prefer the term “Low Occupancy”) It was only a short year ago when I felt the “gloom” of having a house that was all too quiet and clean. In addition, I may have learned a few things, so below I would like to share my new “expertise”.
Here are my thoughts…
1- Give yourself permission to feel badly. You know that you are excited and proud of your child. Also, that you deserve to feel great that as a parent you have done what was needed to get your child to this point – entering higher education. However, you still may have a sense of dread…. the empty room… the dinner seat that will be empty until Fall break… the quiet. So, go ahead. Acknowledge the change in the home and allow yourself time to adjust. Chocolate helps.
2- Call friends and plan to get OUT OF THE HOUSE. Make new traditions. And if lucky- maybe they will feel sympathy for you and pick up the tab.
3- Bake a lot of cookies for your college freshman to help him/her make new friends. And remember, I always love to add a good PEZ dispenser with tons of refills. Nothing says, “Will you be my friend” more than cookies and candy! Oh and popcorn! Don’t forget to send popcorn!
4- Get involved. Despite what I thought – the world didn’t end when we became a home that was “low occupancy”. In fact, being sans kiddos allowed for time to get involved with other endeavors.
5- And when your child comes home over break and thinks they are now wiser than you.. remember one thing.. you really did miss them!
Good luck to all!
Updated: August 20,2021: I wrote the above before there was a pandemic. While all the suggestions remain the same – I will add a few … wipes for cleansing off common areas from germs, lots of hand sanitizer, and fun masks with themes. (Perhaps ones with the periodic chart or all the bones of the body for anatomy class?)