Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Parenting Deadline — CMB Post

Originally posted on the now defunct Chicago Moms Blog.

As a writer, I justify my procrastination habit by claiming that I thrive under deadline pressure. But there is a pressing deadline looming large on my horizon that has me hyperventilating: my daughter is going off to college for the first time at the end of the summer.

That's right, I have fewer than 12 weeks to cram in all the parenting that I haven't managed to do in the last 18 years. First step, making appointments to get her wisdom teeth out, see the pediatrician one last time, and four or five other doctor visits so she can avoid the campus health clinic for as long as possible. (Done.)

Next, we definitely need to work on laundry. I taught her twin brother how to do laundry when he made noises about not going to college, but she has benefitted from my laundry largess for far too long. Then we have to work on making plane, train and shuttle arrangements for trips to and from Massachusetts. We also need to cover how to pack a ridiculously large bedroom that she has never had to share so that it fits into a dorm room with at least one roommate. (Not done.)

Sure, we've repeatedly discussed boys, drinking, smoking, drugs, partying, safe sex, and safe internet practices (you did not just see me patting myself on the back). We've even talked about the relative dangers of getting involved with older men and the pitfalls of falling for your professors. But what about the more subtle lessons of protecting yourself from users, being generous without giving away your soul, being open to new relationships while keeping your heart reasonably safe from unscrupulous manipulators. (Not done.)

What about all the stuff I need to teach her about men. Like how you should go for nice. Nice lasts. Good hair recedes and turns grey; tight abs turn into pot bellies; and you can buy your own damn car — but nice is a rare quality that should be sought and, if found, held dear. (Not done.)

How do I teach her to reach for the moon without forgetting her roots? To carry us with her without letting us weigh her down? To treasure every moment of the next four years as what will likely be the most exciting time of her life until she has children of her own? (Not done.)

How can I help her understand that the decisions she makes from here on out will have a lasting impact on her life, but that there is always time to change and grow? To be bold and brave, but not stupid? (Not done.)

How can I let her know how much she is loved and treasured, and how deeply she will be missed, without making her feel guilty or too frightened to move ahead? Most importantly, how can I send her forth with joy without letting her know that, inside, my heart is breaking? (Definitely not done.)

Clearly, this deadline is unrealistic. If anyone knows where I can file for an extension, please contact me.

When Susan Bearman isn't busy racing the clock, she can be found writing at Two Kinds of People and The Animal Store Blog and freelancing at


Susan Bearman said...

Lori Landau said...
I suspect that most of the (not done) "tasks" listed above are learned more from showing than telling. so you probably have done more than you think over the years just by being who you are--clearly someone who cares about the important things in life. your daughter will too........good luck!

Reply June 16, 2010 at 05:47 AM

Susan @ 2KoP said in reply to Lori Landau...
Well, Lori, by your definition I hope I have set a good example. Thanks for your comment.

Reply June 16, 2010 at 10:10 AM

Angela Allyn said...
We parent by example. And some of those lessons must be learned the hard way. We do the best we can. And they are Works In Progress as is parenting.

Reply June 16, 2010 at 08:30 AM

Susan @ 2KoP said in reply to Angela Allyn...
The hard way — that's what I'm afraid of. I know I can't "prepare" her out of heartache, but I'm hoping I can cushion the blows.

Reply June 16, 2010 at 10:11 AM

Rita said...
As a mom of two that I've sent off to college, this post made me cry. Bittersweet moments for sure, your job as mom is almost done but the worries are not over.

Reply June 16, 2010 at 09:03 AM

Susan @ 2KoP said in reply to Rita...
You think it's almost done? I tend to doubt it (and not just because I still have three boys at home). My dad tells me it's never done. I know the worries are not over … probably just beginning. Thanks for stopping.

Reply June 16, 2010 at 10:12 AM

Cindy Fey said...
Oh beautiful. Thanks so much for this and for all your posts.

Lisa Romeo said...

My son won't be going for 2 more years, but I think I'll print out your post and put it somewhere I'll come across it again and again between now and then.

Susan Bearman said...

Lisa — Ugh, the days are ticking by and I still haven't crossed any more of these must-dos off the list. Trying hard not to miss anything this summer.