My son took up rowing a while ago. He rows with the East Bay Rowing Club and enjoys it immensely. He recently had his first “regatta” which is what they call a meet in rowing lingo. After years and years as a swim mom, I am learning a whole new language that goes with a new sport.
We really wanted to come watch his first regatta in the Bay Area, but he was adamant that we not come and cheer him on.
He has a regatta coming up in So Cal and I asked again if we could come. It’s only a short drive for us.
“Oy vey!” was his answer followed by “I guess so.”
“Really? It’s okay? We get to watch?” I asked.
“Oy vey,” followed with a groan. “But you aren’t allowed to cheer OR talk to anybody!”
I’m laughing so hard. What does he think we’ll do? Run along the beach yelling and cheering for him? I guess that is a distinct possibility. After all that’s what we did at my daughter’s open water swims. He’s on a team of all adults, it’s not a child’s sport. My bet is that we will be the only parents there! I guess that’s kind of embarrassing in itself.
Will there ever be a day where our kids won’t be embarrassed of us?
Four years ago to the day, we drove our youngest to college. I was teary-eyed when we said our final goodbyes. I wrote about the experience complete with our text messages here. Roll the calendar four full years later—years filled with joy, heart, excitement and anxiety—and she’s getting ready to leave me again.
I remember when we dropped our son, the firstborn, off at college. It was heartbreaking to me. I cried like I was losing a limb. With our youngest, the tears poured down my cheeks, but I was able to get myself somewhat under control.
My son all grown up.
I’ve got mixed emotions this week. She came home after taking her last two college classes in Paris and Rome. I’m used to having her here even though it’s only been two short weeks. I’m used to having her dog Waffles with me, too.He’s spent every day since the middle of May with me. Olive the cat is the only member of the household who will be celebrating when Waffles walks out the door. I say I have mixed emotions because I’m excited for her. Also, she reminded me that even I can drive to her house to visit! She says “even I” because I’m notoriously a bad driver and have anxiety on freeways. But, it’s not that far away.
At the moment, my daughter is packing her car. Tomorrow morning she’ll leave for good, moving to her new home in Arizona and ready to take on adulthood. Am I ready for this? Is she ready for it? Oh my. I’ll let you know how it all goes.
I will for the first time in my life, seriously have an empty nest.
I’m seriously going to miss this boy.
How did you feel when you said goodbye to your kids?
“I had no idea your life was so difficult and that your mom was so ‘crazy.’ Your senior project made me cry.”
I found these words scrawled in a handmade card to my 18-year-old, valedictorian son, wedged next to the front seat of my car.
I couldn’t breathe. Then I howled. My beautiful first born. The little pee wee with the stocking cap and button nose who stared at me with huge eyes the day he was born. The toddler with white blond curls who called me “Sweetheart.”
This stranger living in my house made his senior project about me? The horrors of living with me? After everything I had done for him? Years filled with volunteering as a room-mom, midnight trips to the ER for his asthma, driving to the Getty for field trips, opening our house for movies nights and spaghetti feeds. Me?
A friend with older kids warned me that the senior year “can be kind of tough.”
No kidding! I never dreamed how hard. I found myself at odds with this person, who used to be my best friend. I alternated between yelling, cajoling and pleading with him to finish college applications, meet countless deadlines and study for exams. No wonder he called me crazy.
The stress of applying for college proved to be filled with potholes, no, make that sinkholes — the kind that swallows entire houses and families. What to declare as a major, where to live, what to write for a personal statement are enough to stress out the calmest kid.
So what else makes applying to college so awful? Try these numbers on for size:
• More than 3,000,000 high school seniors apply to college in the US — never mind the ones throughout the world trying to get into our top schools!
• Yale’s applications doubled from 2002 to this year, topping 30,000. Yale accepted roughly 2,000 in 2013.
• Harvard has nearly 35,000 applicants, 2029 admitted in 2013.
• The number of applicants for University of California Santa Barbara in 2013 was 62,413, They had 4,550 in the freshman class last year.
• UCLA is one of the most applied to schools in the country, with nearly 100,000 applicants, and they admit 15,000.
Between December and graduation, my son received eight out of nine college rejections –further making him love me, hate me, turn to me in need, and then reject me again. I could do nothing to help his torment. In the end, he accepted admission to his one school.
Hang in there moms of juniors and seniors. When it seems like there is nothing you can do to help, take a deep breath. Be there for support and offer advice if they ask for it. Love them, even if they are undeniably rude. Forgive yourself if you lose your temper.
I believe our kids take out their fears and frustrations on those they love most.
I am happy to report that two years later, the stranger living in my son’s skin has disappeared. I have a son who calls me the moment he finishes a final that he knows he’s crushed. He calls to ask how to cook chicken stir fry. And he calls to say he loves me.
Photos: (top) My son during graduation. (second) a beautiful baby, (above) my son when he was at the age when he thought my name was “Sweetheart,” and (below) a view of my son’s university. Not too shabby, after all.
My son and friend near the beginning of the ride called life.
My son who graduated from college at the end of summer is gainfully employed, living almost 500 miles away in the San Francisco Bay area. He’s worked at a couple of jobs, one which he quit because it was too difficult. It was long-term substitute teaching for English as a Developmental Language–in one of the worst school districts in the nation. It was a good try on his part, but he said it was stressful beyond belief. He had no training to do that job, he said, and there was little support. Next, he found a part-time retail job so he could focus on applying for “real jobs.” Although he liked the retail job, it barely covered rent.
His first week of a “real job” has come to a close, and I am proud to say that as an overly involved swim mom and parent, on his first day of work I DID NOT call him to make sure he was out of bed. I was relieved when he called me a little after 8 a.m. and said he was outside the building with 17 minutes to spare! Whew! I can’t tell you how much that phone call meant to me. He must have known exactly what I was going through.
It’s now time for me to really, really step back and let him fly. I raised a kid who can actually get out of bed, work out, make breakfast and get to work on time! Who knew?
My son when he was three.
We had an interesting discussion when he accepted his current job, and then got an offer from a second company. He said he might like the second company better, but felt it wasn’t ethical to rescind the first offer because he had committed. I asked a few people in HR and other jobs in business, and they said it happens all the time and it isn’t viewed as unethical, but rather people have to look out for their best interest.
After relaying this info to my son, he interviewed again with the second company and was told they’d email him an employment contract by the end of the day. His start date was to be Monday, the same start date that he had with the first company. Two days passed and there was no employment contract—and they didn’t return his phone call!
My son a few years ago at Junior Lifeguards.
I worried that he had already given notice to company #1. I texted him and asked. I couldn’t wait to find out if he had given notice to his part-time retail job, rescinded the for-sure position for a “fly-by-night” operation that had flaked out. Would he be moving home because there was NO JOB?
“I’m not stupid!” was the reply I received. He started working the following Monday at company #1 and loved it. He loves the people, the company and is feeling good. What a big step in his life to not only graduate from college but land in a job he likes.
I’m relieved and will sit back and enjoy his ride–and not try to dictate or direct it, but just be proud and thrilled for him. I’ll enjoy watching where his journey will lead.
A few weeks ago, my daughter was telling me how she’d missed practice because she had a midterm and the time conflicted. Her coach wasn’t happy, she said.
“Well,” I said, “maybe you should call her and explain. Or, better yet, next time you’re going to miss practice, let her know in advance.”
“Mom, I’m telling you something. I don’t need your unsolicited advice. A simple ‘that sucks’ would suffice.”
I was offended. My feelings were tweaked, not exactly hurt. I thought, what is going on with her?
This week she called and asked for my advice about a sticky situation with a friend. I get it now. She had a problem she couldn’t solve on her own. She wanted my advice and then she would handle it from there.
In her dorm room getting settled.
My mistake has been offering advice when my perfectly capable, adult child is making her own decisions and finding her own way. She does not need her mom telling her what to do all the time.
This was reinforced again when she called with an issue with her university and paperwork for the fall quarter. I gave her a few suggestions of who to call, what to do.
“I’ve done all that, Mom. I’m just telling you about it.”
Yes, I understand now. She’s sharing the trials and tribulations in her life. She’s not asking me what to do. If she needs my help she will ask me.
With teammates after breaking the 8 and under 4 x 50 relay record.
I should be thankful that my daughter likes to share. That she can figure things out on her own. That she’s got a strong head and can handle the daily tasks of living in a house, paying utility bills, handling school bureaucracy, and getting a speeding ticket.
Welcome to adulthood! I guess a simple “that sucks” from time to time is all she needs.