A New Season of Parenting: Moving to College

So this is it. This dusty pile.

The physical evidence of a notion my heart already knows for sure.

I find myself now in a very different season of parenting, this mothering of young adults. It’s a season of transience, one marked by coming and going, staying and leaving, holding on and letting go. I’ve searched, but it seems there is no term that adequately describes this period of emotional cycling, of repeated loss and regain. I’ve resorted to calling it “Yo-Yo Mothering.”

You move your son into his first college dorm, and your heart soars as he takes this first step into a future you both dreamed of for so long.

You move your son into his first college dorm, and your heart breaks just a little because this is his journey away from you. And even though this is how it should be, it still hurts.

You gain a little, you lose a little.

You go to the supermarket during those first few weeks after he’s left, and are pleasantly surprised to find there are fewer bags to carry, and you’ve spent a little less money at the register.

You go to the supermarket during those first few weeks after he’s left, and feel lost in the aisles you know so well. No longer needing to purchase his favorite items leaves you shaken and unsure.

You gain a little, you lose a little.

You pick him up at the airport for that first visit home and return to a house that is once again pulsing with the rhythms of his music and his chatter.

You drop him off at the airport after that first visit home, and return to a house that is far too quiet. You’re back to communicating through Snapchat and texts. You wait anxiously for the next phone call.

You gain a little, you lose a little.

And now this dusty pile signifies another return. If this “Yo-Yo Mom” has learned nothing else in this season of parenting, it’s that the return never lasts long enough. So I plan to relish our time together. I’m going to ignore the messes, deal with the erratic sleep schedule, and spend the time making his favorite meals.

Because even this transience is impermanent, and I have a hunch I will one day reminisce fondly about the coming and going days.

You gain a little, you lose a little.

This post originally appeared on Facebook. It has been reprinted with permission.

Cheryl Gottlieb Boxer resides in New Jersey, where she micromanages a husband, her teenage children, and a confounding cockapoo. Her writing has appeared in The Mighty, Grown & Flown, Kveller, Her View From Home, CollegiateParent, Motherly, Parent Co. and Sammiches & Psych Meds. You can find her on Facebook at No Sick Days for Mom.

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