It’s never easy for Mama Bird to let go of her babies. I should know, considering my mother can’t go a day without calling me and asking if I need anything, like food or medicine, while I’m away at school. The conversation usually goes something like this:

“Was that a cough?”


“Are you sick? You sound sick.”

“I’m fine, Mom.”

“Have you been taking Vitamin C? Are you drinking water? You know, if your roommates are sick, you need to clean the apartment as often as possible. Are you cleaning?”


All the while, your thought process goes something like, “She’s a mom. She loves you, and she’s a mom. I can’t get mad because my mother is too loving and caring.”

suitcaseBut here’s the deal: It’s the start of spring. It’s the start of a season where many of you high school seniors are receiving your acceptance letters to your colleges of choice and freaking out whilst making cute acceptance letter videos that go viral on YouTube. After all, good news is best shared with everyone. It’s all good and grand until the summer comes and goes.  You are then packing up the family mini-van, and  your parents are saying a teary good-bye at the golden gates of college — the pure epitome of freedom for the 17 or 18-year-old who has been dying to get out of their home for years.

We all get it. You’re excited to have some semblance of independence — to be away from the parents who, for years, had the power to unscrew your door knob for the sake of transparency “under their roof.” For years it’s always been, “No dating till you graduate,” or, “As long as you live under my roof,” and you can finish that sentence because we’ve all been there. As long as you are physically in your parents’ home, they rule.

Well, college is that rare exception that allows young adults to be in this particular state of limbo. It’s not as much financial independence, but you are still physically independent to the point where your parents have no idea what you’re doing unless you actually tell them.  Even then, it’s not like you have to tell them face-to-face because you’ve snuck into the house after curfew, and Dad is sitting at the couch, waiting to give that ultimatum he’s been practicing all night. Instead, you’re living in student apartments or dorms with RA’s, and they’re just there to make sure you don’t hurt yourself or those around you. The rest is all up to you. Fun, right?

While it is fun, there are times when college students forget that they are not solely independent individuals who have no family ties whatsoever. When your parents say good-bye to you at the college gates, that’s not truly a good-bye forever; some college students, though, believe it is. We often forget that for the last 18 years, our parents have acted as strict disciplinarians because they love us. Now, when they see you off to a new world with brand new people, they are trying ever so hard to learn to let go of you. Letting go is one of the toughest experiences they will ever have to go through. I know that when my mother said good-bye to me, she grabbed me and began crying into my chest (she’s really short okay?). She held me until she could get into her car and drive an hour away to a home that would no longer be filled with my presence. My clothes were gone, my accessories were gone, my annoying messy bathroom was all tidied up, and all my shows on the DVR were erased. I was gone. To this day, I think about that afternoon, and, even though it was something that had to be done, I still get extremely emotional for doing that to my mother. So, I guess what I’m saying is this: As fun as college is going to be — and your experiences there really do shape the kind of adult you are going to be — remember that your parents are also going through a brand new experience as well. They are learning to live without you.

I don’t want this to be a sad requiem to the death of childhood or anything like that because that’s really not what I’m trying to say. What I am saying, though, is that Mom and Dad can’t quit you cold turkey. They need to be reassured daily that they have not been forgotten. So, I want to impart to you today just a few things that I do to let my parents know that I haven’t forgotten them.

Firstly: Communication, communication, communication.

It’s been two years since I’ve “officially” been away from home, and ,within those two years, I’ve never forgotten to call my parentsfile0002082401716 every day to tell them I am okay. Whether it’s on my way to class or waiting at the  gas pump to fill up my car, I make sure that my mom and dad know that I’ve been thinking about them and that I want to know how they’re doing. I’ve found that if I take the initiative to do this, it helps them know that they’re not a nuisance, but rather a valuable voice in my life.

Secondly: Go home once in a while — and not just for the sake of being able to do free laundry (although taking advantage of that perk is incredibly essential for staying within your monthly budget).

If you are going to school out of state, I can see how this step is difficult, so, as an alternative, SKYPE. Your parents need to see you every once in a while to know that you are physically okay. Trust me, if they see you perhaps three times a month, it’ll be so much easier for them to cope during the days you are not there.

Thirdly: Tell them you love them.

It’s such a simple thing, but it really is an important one. Tell your parents that you love them as often as possible. It makes their days without you so much easier. Also, when you say good-bye to them after spending a weekend with them, hug them tightly and remember that they are the reason that you can go to school and experience something extremely valuable in the first place. Show them love, and let them hear that you love them. This way, they know that they are not insignificant specks of a past that you do not cherish. For the longest time, they took care of you. It’s your turn now to take care of them to some extent by telling them that they are important and valuable to the growing you are doing away from them.

Lastly: Do this because you want to, not because you have to.

In the end, you will want your parents there for the tough times and the good times. Your relationship with them does not end because you are no longer there, and it will not end when you yourself become a parent. You need them just as much as they need you. So, know that all of these things are actions you want to take, not actions that you feel obligated to take. In the end, despite the physical separation that college will inevitably bring, their love for you is unconditional, and your love for them is unconditional.


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