August and September mean university. College. Kids leaving the nest.
I panicked, even though I had another son who had already left for university. Even though I had lots of lead time. Even though I had been through it before. Even though I thought I was prepared.
While we were driving our super full mini-van on the highway to his residence on move-in day, essentially his new home away from home, I wondered if I had taught son #2 all of the necessary life lessons to ensure his success…as a student and also as a human being navigating a quasi-independent life on his own for the first time.
The same thing happened to me the day before #1 left for university.
With him, it all went down in the kitchen.
In both cases, my “empty nest” or….make that my “emptying nest” because I had one kid still at home in high school, made my thoughts run wild! I couldn’t stop thinking about whether or not I had taught my sons what they needed to know.
You know the drill…essentially matters relating to sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. In this case, it was a whole hodge podge of miscellaneous lessons. Here they are, in no particular order:
Cooking…did they know how to make at least five things on their own?
Laundry…did they know how to fold a shirt and that you must act quickly when the dryer is finished, or look like you slept in your clothes?
Drinking…did they really understand that alcohol poisoning is a “thing” and that you can die?
Drinking and driving…did they really know not to get in a car with someone who has been drinking, even if the person looks completely sober and says he or she isn’t drunk and feels fine?
Sex…did they really understand that birth control is never a 100% guarantee and as a male, you have zero control once there is an unplanned pregnancy?
Vegetables…did they know that they have to eat them or they will feel like crap?
GPAs…did they know they’re cumulative and basically, start now?
Personal development…did they really understand the difference between responding to what others want you to do and deciding what YOU really want to do?
Studying…did they know that unlike high school, you can actually do your work during the day because you may have a lot of down time?
Getting into trouble…did they know that if they screw up as adults, it’s a much bigger deal (unlike mistakes made at home and at camp, for example)?
Social media…did they really understand what they should and shouldn’t share on Facebook, Twitter, etc., that’s privacy is pretty much impossible anymore and that employers always Google prospective employees before they hire them?
Living an ethical life…did they understand the importance of continuing to be guided by honesty, integrity and doing the “right thing”, and being an active, contributive member of whatever community they’re a part of?
Working hard…did they really understand that nothing really important in life comes easily?
Keeping in touch…did they know that they can’t just disappear now that they moved out and they must Skype or call home at least once a week?
Stupidity…did they really understand that the line between something being hysterical and incredibly dangerous or dumb is really only a second or two of bad or impaired judgment?
Independence…did they understand that although they’re living away from home, they’re not really independent in the truest sense of the word, because we’re still paying for everything?
Injury…did they know they should call home if they end up in the hospital, even for something “small”, and that’s it’s not cool for mom to find out on Facebook?
And finally, speaking of phoning home, did they really know that they can call me ANYTIME to help with ANY PROBLEM, ALWAYS?
These, dear reader, are the current ramblings of this midlife mom’s mind.
So while I’ve successfully moved my second son into his dorm room at university (frosh week, here he comes), I’m feeling fairly confident that somewhere during the last 18 years I have shared what I consider to be essential life lessons. Man, these midlife transitions aren’t easy!
This is what my life coaching practice is all about. The midlife chapter is full of exciting changes and challenges. And midlife doesn’t have to be a crisis. Sometimes, we need some help sorting it all out though, and that’s where I come in.
In my case, I don’t even have to look that far to find evidence that I have, in fact, prepared my kids for life. Somewhere along the line, these life lessons were shared and understood.
However, I clearly have an underlying thought that if something goes wrong, it’s because I didn’t do my job as a parent. This thought doesn’t serve me at all. Instead, it makes me feel anxious and fearful. I don’t want to feel this way. I want to allow myself to feel excited and proud about their next big adventures and accomplishments. In order to feel that way, I will definitely need to shift my thinking.
I’m going to try to focus on this: “I know that I prepared my kids to be independent, thoughtful, sensitive and successful young men.” This new thought makes me feel the way I want to feel. Of course my kids will make mistakes. And of course, I’ll be there to support them.
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