I’ve spent the past two days doing laundry, obsessing over the What to Bring list and running to TJ Maxx for “last minute things” as if it’s my job. I packed two sets of brand new XL Twin sheets, carefully washed and folded in the new laundry basket. I’ve ordered books from Amazon, joined a Parents of First Year Students Facebook page and shipped a new comforter so that we don’t have to pack it along with his two bass and one acoustic guitar. I’ve snuck his favorite snacks and a love note into his duffle bags.
My youngest son is leaving for his first year of college.
Last Tuesday, I set the alarm on my phone to remind me of the Facebook Live presentation on Moving In and Orientation. I probably asked dumb questions like,”Do we need to bring a tool kit to set up his loft?” (“Good idea!” was the cheerful response.) The Director of Residential Life patiently answered questions that we mothers posed, ranging from “Where can my son pick up his mail?” to “Are the rooms too hot or too cold?” They outlined the schedule of Move In Day, explained the role of Resident Assistants, and enthusiastically sold the fun activities planned for Freshmen Orientation which includes a beach party along the shores of Lake Michigan, a trip to Chicago with his Freshman Advisory and a dance. They were also pretty clear that parents’ activities were done on Saturday afternoon.
When the presentation ended, the Director of Student Activities looked directly at all the moms out in Facebook Live land and said,”Most importantly, we ask that you trust us with your child.”
I may or may not have cried a little bit.
Trust. Trust strangers with my beloved? How……?
And then I remember that I have used those exact words when speaking to new parents with sons moving into my dorm. Amidst the unpacking, the last minute runs to Target or to the grocery store, the lofting of beds, these new parents get to squeeze in a Meet the Dorm Team meeting with me. We sit in the hot Common Room, the moms often staring at me suspiciously, the fathers shifting from foot to foot, anxious to get back to setting up their sons’ rooms. I answer questions ranging from when the bathrooms get cleaned to what happens if their son gets sick in the middle of the night. Yes, there will be supervision during study hall; no, girls cannot come into the dorm any time they want. No, they will not go hungry nor will I do their laundry for them. Yes, it is normal to be nervous; yes, you can call me (almost) any time.
I ask them to trust us. And I mean it.
So somehow I will get through this week and Move In Day. We will pack and then unpack the car, and I will spend way more time than necessary setting up his room. I will make his bed with his new clean sheets, knowing full well that it might be a while before they’re changed again. I will wipe down his dresser and desk with Lysol wipes. I will run to Target and to the grocery store. I will smile hard and squeeze him even harder.
And in early September, when I’m in front of those moms in the hot Common Room, I will try to smile reassuringly. I will ask them to trust us.