My girlfriend and I are both from big families and we both have only one child. Our sons are the same age and left for college at the same time several years ago. We always joke that what we left for college, our mothers most likely didn’t even notice, there were so many kids. Sometime around Columbus Day, my mother looked around the dinner table and said, “Where’s Lenore?”
It was a different time back then. Constant communication via electronic devices, much less cyberspace, weren’t in existence. The only thing available bedsides paper, pen and a stamp, was a telephone. And in my case, it was hooked onto the wall at the end of my dorm floor. No answering machine attached–not invented yet– it rang endlessly until some dorm mate picked it up. Given that, the standing rule from my mother was to call home on Sunday mornings, after they got home from Mass.
And it worked out just fine, for both Mom and me.
Now it’s my turn with my son. The article on the front page of the Lifestyles section of today’s paper talks about communicating with your college student, something I am very familiar with. When we dropped him off eight hours away, I knew that daily contact was a thing of the past. I’m lucky if I get a text. So following my mother’s lead, we have a standing date on Sundays. Those dates do get or shortened or sidelined by his busy schedule, but I draw comfort in knowing they still exist.
Although I still miss the daily communication we enjoyed while he lived at home, at this point, it only seems right and mature that he take ownership of his life and not feel beholding to call Mommy every day. If there’s only one thing I’ve learned as a parent, it’s this: guilt only gets you so far.