It’s a relief being connected to other moms who have sent a child or two off to college.
Only these moms understand how difficult it is to let your little kid—who you actually gave birth to and then protected for 18 years—go away, on their own, to navigate the freedoms and responsibilities of being in college.
It may almost be as scary for us as it is for them.
Fortunately, I am in cahoots with one of these moms—my son D.’s college roommate’s. We met on move-in day at football camp, as her son is also a player—and much to our boys’ delight, we are completely available at no charge to assist with their college lives as much as needed.
At least they like the food-stocking and money part.
We fill their room with cases of Gatorade and water (which at this rate of consumption seems to be hydrating the entire team). We bring them snacks such as big jars of peanut butter, multiple kinds of granola bars, and bags of Swedish Fish. But most importantly, we keep each other informed when things appear to go awry in that 12 x 19-square-foot space.
This week, the other mom let me know that she had told the boys through Facetime that we were going to be staging an intervention in their room this very weekend. We were coming up for their football game Saturday and we would be there to help them clean.
Yay! I was excited. It just feels good to help your kid. Especially with something that he isn’t really interested in doing for himself.
The photo she sent me of my son’s side of the room was disconcerting—especially to my type-A-organizer-mother self. The last time I had been in their room, I offered to help put my son’s stuff away (such his big pile of clean clothes on the floor), but he just said, “No, Mom, I got it,” and started walking toward the door.
His friend from down the hall said, “D., you should let your mom help you. She just wants to spend more time with you.”
And I said, “Yeah”! And nudged D., and gave him a pointed stare.
Still, he said, “I got this, Mom,” and gave me a quick hug, and ushered me out.
So I was looking forward to this intervention. It had been several weeks coming—I had received a few updates about the condition of the room and it didn’t sound like things were on the upswing. And when I saw the photo of his side of the room this week, I was even more concerned.
I messaged back to the other mom, “What happened to D.’s bed?”
That was the first thing I noticed—his mattress was on the floor. So not only was his stuff thrown everywhere, but that honking adjustable steel contraption that was there when he moved in two months ago, on which we placed his mattress and 4-inch memory foam topper, was now suspiciously missing.
It turns out that in the process of trying to adjust the height of his bed, D’s bed had broken. This had happened about two weeks before. And so he threw it away.
“WHAT?” I texted him as soon as he was out of class, as loud as I could possibly text. “You threw it AWAY?”
“Mom, I didn’t have room for it in my room,” he said.
I then had to educate him via text—using lots of exclamation points and capital letters—about the pitfalls and financial consequences of throwing away university property. Especially when one does that without informing Res Life or the RA that is down the hall (who is getting a significant discount on tuition to be available for such moments). I was horrified.
“You need to go to Res Life RIGHT NOW and tell them what happened and make sure they aren’t going to charge you for the bed and by the way, ask them to get you a new bed too.”
“Okay, Mom,” he wrote.
And so he did. Eventually. Two days later. And reportedly, a new bed is on the way. He tells me that they are not going to charge him for it, but I will wait and see what the spring semester bill looks like—I am just waiting for a ridiculolus charge to show up with “1 - Misc. Dorm Room Furniture” next to it.
Through all this, I had to remind myself that he does, in fact, still have an 18-year-old boy brain. It now has a few new synapses connected that weren’t connected before. And he really is navigating things very well. He is enjoying college, has made new friends, is busting his butt in football, and he’s happy.
He also did let me help him clean his side of the room this weekend. He even asked me to help him fold the clothes in his drawers. And I helped him organize his snacks, his toiletries, hang up the six coats and seven hats he had brought, and everything else that was a bit askance.
And the boys even went out to dinner with us crazy moms afterwards. It was like Nirvana for me, getting to sit next to D. in Bill’s Pizza. It just felt good to share a sub with my kid, and to know that if nothing else, at least his room was clean.