Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Higher education and the function of parents.

Imagine my surprise when my daughters had the audacity to turn 18 this past August, without asking for permission or anything. Not that it was that much of a shock, I guess. They’d been threatening to do it all year, and had lobbed reminders at me, nearly daily. They each programmed their cell phone to count down the days.

With the whole ‘turning 18’ thing, came the incredible task of getting Offspring #2 ready for university. (Offspring #1 decided to put off the advanced education thing until next September, thereby staving off the onset of my empty nest syndrome. Very kind of her.)

So, Offspring #2 is now suitably ensconced in residence at Brock University. (Which, I discovered during the campus tour last spring, has a Oenology Degree available. Had I known that, 20 years ago, I’d have followed a vastly different career path. Who knew such a thing even existed? However, I’d probably need a liver transplant about now, so maybe things happened for the best.)

It’s a strange thing, as a mother, sending one of your offspring out into the world. If you look at it, intellectually, it’s a sign that you’ve done your job right. The function of a parent is to grow these little darlings up into people that become valuable members of society. So, when a child goes off to university, you should greet it with the proper aplomb and ceremony. Yeah…

As the days (and now weeks) passed by, I became more sure of my ability to survive this next step in parenting. I’m becoming more sure of her abilities to survive and grow outside of my direct line of vision. She’s doing laundry; she’s eating the right things, getting to bed at a fairly reasonable hour. She’s making friends, and going to classes on time. All the things I’d make sure she was doing. I’m proud of her.

Offspring #1 remains at home, for now. She’s learning from her sister, how difficult it is to go out on your own. I’m glad that she’s decided not to go away yet, and I hope I’ll be ready when it comes time for her to go. #1 consents to give me hugs when I need them (she’s not the huggiest person in the world, not sure how that happened), and we’re helping each other through this. (She’d like people to think she’s the strong one, but... I think she’s pretty mushy inside, actually)

So far, this milestone in parenting has gone ok.

So... suck on that.


Paul Michael Murphy said...

While I can't relate to your perspective (yet), I can say that leaving for college was anything but traumatic for me. My parents did a great job of preparing me for life on my own with the following exceptions:

1. Laundry--mom always did it, so it sorta piled up until I went home. Where Mom of course did it presumably because it gave her a very Mommish feeling. I still have laundry problems, but neither my wife nor my mother will do it for me. (Okay, truth. Mom would probably do it if I asked, but at some point personal pride eclipsed my desire for pressed and clean clothing.)

2. Any class before 10:00. Mom always woke me up, even in high school, so when Mom wasn't there it was way too easy to ignore the alarm. (Or not set it in the first place.) I solved the problem after my freshman year by never signing up for early classes. Unfortunately, the same option wasn't available after college. At least, not in my chosen field.

So there's my advice to your daughter at college: Know thyself, and adjust accordingly. And your mom will probably still do Mom things for you, but at some point you're going to have to do them for yourself, so it's better off just doing them now.

Offspring #2 said...

I love you mommy :)

MG Higgins said...

Awwww. :)

Monica said...

isn't she the cutest.

Laundry does not give this mom any mommish feelings. Baking cookies, a whole 'nother story.

My mom would do my laundry too, and clean my house if i let her, but i say.... hmmm.. maybe that's not such a bad idea.

Offspring #2 was the one making sure i got out of bed, so i'm having a rough time getting to work on time since she's left.

Good advice, PMM. Much appreciated. I didn't leave for college, i was able to stay at home and drive back and forth, so i have no advice for her or me.

Anita said...

Oh, don't get me started on offspring...am very emotional about the little buggers right now.

Can't believe you have 18-year-olds...you look so young in your portrait.

Monica said...

i slipped leo 50 lire to make me look younger. don't tell anyone.