What can a mom say to college-bound daughter?
Updated: July 3, 2012 12:20PM
One of my favorite “mom-writers” of all time, the brilliant Erma Bombeck, once said, “I see children as kites. You spend a lifetime trying to get them off the ground. Finally they are airborne, but they need more string, so you keep letting it out. There is sadness that comes with the joy, because the kite becomes more distant, and somehow you know it won’t be long before that beautiful creature will snap the lifeline that bound you together and soar as it was meant to soar, free and alone.”
My daughter, Brianna, graduates from Lake Forest High School in a few short days. As she’s grown and proven to be pretty level-headed and mature, I’ve been letting her kite string grow in length. She has earned the privilege. But like every mother, I hope she’s ready enough to “snap the lifeline” and begin her college experience in August.
I ask myself if there are more words of advice that should accompany these last few months she’s home, not that I haven’t inundated her with my pearls of wisdom since she was a baby. I’ve taught, I’ve guided, I’ve cautioned, I’ve challenged. And yes, I’ve even occasionally nagged her to listen to what I thought was crucially important to her understanding of life. So, what does a mom have left to say before her daughter leaves for college?
“Don’t walk back from the library alone late at night. Don’t go jogging alone early or late. Don’t text while you’re crossing the street. Don’t leave valuables in an unlocked dorm room. Don’t separate yourself from friends while out at night. Don’t drink open beverages at parties. Try to relax and be yourself through rush.” For good measure, maybe I’ll add in what I’ve said about a thousand times now. “Gosh, Bri, your roommate will really appreciate it if your used make-up wipes hit the garbage can now and then.”
Maybe I’ll just quietly hope she calls when she needs a listening ear. Or even calls when she wants to offer a listening ear to her Dad or me. I’ll hope she comes home when she needs to but has so much fun that her weekends are full of college and all it has to offer. My emotions, like many moms’, are in conflict these days. Our house will be very quiet without Brianna, and to say I’ll miss her laughter and couch conversation is truly an understatement.
I personally don’t think there’s really a time that our children’s “kites” are fully launched, when the conversation is over, when we stop guiding and talking through the push and pull of life’s kite string. I hope my conversation will continue with Brianna, and she wants to continue it with me. I guess that’s the key; that it’s always both ways. She can be far away in distance yet still close enough to talk things through.
Thank you, gentle, funny Brianna, for teaching me as much about life (if not more) than I’ve taught you. You are ready. I may not be totally ready for you to leave, but you are. To you and the class of 2012, congratulations and best wishes for safe, joy-filled college years!
Lake Forester columnist Maria Malin can be reached at email@example.com