, Salem, MA


September 23, 2013

Column: College sendoffs get easier

There’s nothing like a college drop-off to shake parents loose from our foundations, no matter how prepared we think we are!

That’s how I felt two years ago when my firstborn’s leaving for college happened to coincide with the approaching of Hurricane Irene, which proved to be a pretty significant storm. At that time, I wrote about parents sending kids off: “We hate to see them go, but it’s our job to let them go. So we endure the hurricane — the whipping of the wind, the pounding of the rain. Our hearts ache with the strain, but we stay hopeful. We ride out the storm and, if necessary, we’re there to pick up the pieces. At the same time, our worlds have changed, too, and we need to make things right for ourselves — a whole other challenge.”

As a sequel to that story, the week after dropping my daughter off at college, my husband and I received a call telling us we needed to bring her home to ride out the hurricane until the college was reopened — a serendipitous, weeklong gift of extra time with her! In an instant, I went from grief-stricken to gleeful — until it dawned on me that it meant doing that painful send-off all over again!

At that time, I wrote: “Since our children were babies, we’ve tried to help make life work out right for them. Some call it helicoptering; we just call it loving.”

The truth is, that summer before my daughter started her freshman year, I wasn’t just a loving helicopter parent; I was a rescue helicopter parent with searchlights beaming down, asserting my mom influence and authority. (As most moms know, this doesn’t go over well!) I gathered up every item she could possibly need for college, including a wall calendar with family photos (so she wouldn’t forget us), notepaper and stamps for writing home, and even a small kite.

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