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Half-Way there to becoming an empty-nester

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 10:09 -- Karen Minty

I’m not a bad mother because I didn’t cry when I dropped my oldest child off at college. I’m officially half-way there to becoming an Empty-Nester, a status I have long coveted. I’ve been a parent for over 19 years, most of it on my own as the sole-supporting parent. I have raised my kids with the full intention that someday they will move out...

Preparing for her departure was exhausting. No amount of planning will guarantee you don’t forget something. Upon her acceptance, lists were created. More lists, different lists, categorized lists, colour-coded lists and we still forgot the charging cord for the hand-held vacuum. It was sitting there in plain sight on the coffee table when I arrived home.

I also learned the value of having someone around to organize us. Time management and organization aren’t exactly my greatest strengths and the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree. My boyfriend, however is super organized and prefers the calm of preparedness over the chaos of... well, umm... the chaos that is us. He made a list, searched store flyers for months in advance for sales and would have had it all packed long before moving day, if not for us stifling his process with our procrastination.

If left to my own devices, we likely would have looked at the calendar the day before move-in and yelled, “That’s tomorrow??!! Quick, get in the car, we’ll just buy everything, throw it in the trunk and hope for the best!”  

Move-in went smoothly. All those years of playing Tetris on my phone paid off, we were packing Ninjas. It only took us two trips from the car to the dorm room to move everything in. Tetris also came in handy when the dorm room fridge turned out to be apartment-sized and we had to squeeze in all the home-cooking we brought with us.  

We found out that there is a grocery shuttle bus that runs two evenings a week. I was also relieved to see a McDonald’s and a Timmies directly across the street from the residence. Probably good planning on their part. I now have confidence that my child will not starve having to fend for herself.

I went to the Parent Info Session (really, it’s just an excuse to peel the helicopter moms off their kid for an hour). I learned two very interesting things: ‘The Turkey Dump’. It is the phenomenon of college kids breaking up with their high school sweetheart at Thanksgiving. Upon their first visit back home, they realize after being separated, they’ve made new friends, they aren’t the same people, and break up. Hence the Thanksgiving (Turkey) Dump. I nearly fell out of my chair laughing.

I also learned that the college offers all kinds of Orientation Week activities, so students can meet and make friends and workshops to help them be prepared for the upcoming school year. I was surprised to learn that the most popular and well-attended workshop was How to Do Laundry! Thank you, residence staff for picking up where I left off as a responsible parent.

At the end of the day, there weren’t any tears. We hugged and kissed her good-bye and left. I was so happy for her. She’s growing up and moving on, just like she should be. I will admit that I am excited about having the house to myself every second week while my son is at his dad’s. But the reality is, I came home to a quiet house and found myself bored after an hour without my side-kick to talk to and watch Netflix together.  

People continue to ask me if I’m okay and are surprised to hear that I didn’t cry. My reply has always been, “She’s ready.” I’m not a bad mother for not crying. I’m a good mother because I’m confident in her ability to succeed and I’m proud of her for taking the next step in claiming her own life. Yes, I’m going to miss her, but she’s ready to spread her wings and fly, and instead of watching from a nearby helicopter like some parents, I’m quite ready to watch her soar from the ground.

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