Coping With My College Kid Being So Far Away
I know it’s often said that parents shouldn’t be friends with their kids. But it happened. My daughter messed around and became one of my very best friends. She was the first person to know me from the inside out. The first person I was fully responsible for and to.
She’s in her second year living nearly 2,000 miles away from us.
She’s doing amazing in school, works part time, has found her people, takes care of her business and is looking ahead and making plans for her future. I thought that I would have adjusted by now as well as she has, but it seems to be getting more and more difficult to accept this as our new norm. What’s even scarier is with every trip to visit her, it becomes more evident that she will likely never return home for any extended period of time. We will now be the place she visits. Her dreams for her future are not here in Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge has her past and likely her heart, but the world has her future. I’m excited for her and happy that she moved away to experience all that the world has to offer her (something I often regret not doing myself), but I hate it at the same time.
I have never experienced severe anxiety until the first time we left her at college in Los Angeles last fall and that feeling seems to find me every single time I leave her. We just returned from a visit for Family Weekend and it feels like the first time we left her. It’s emotional, of course, but I find that it’s physical as well. I have stomach aches, trouble breathing, shaky legs and full on panic attacks. I still get incredibly sad when I walk into her empty bedroom.
Some days are better than others, but here’s how I cope on the hard days:
- I remind myself often how blessed we are that our kid is healthy, thriving at school, and living out her wildest dreams.
- I pray a lot for both of our kids. I pray that they do the right thing even when no one is watching, that they are a leader and not a follower and that they are surrounded by people who have their best interest at heart.
- I FaceTime her as often as I can and we text nearly all day. She usually calls me when she wakes up and I never go to bed without calling or texting her.
- I visit as often as I can or have her home whenever she has a break. I’m trying to do better this year, but last year, I had to see her at least once a month. Recently, we went 2 months without seeing one another for the first time, so I guess that’s progress.
- When I’m in her home away from home, I try to meet her friends and spend time in her space. It helps us to connect and have conversations about what’s happening in her day to day life.
- I am enjoying experiencing my youngest as an “only child.” She’s always had to share me with her sister. Sadly, I’m already anxious about her leaving for college in just a few years because I now know how fast these years fly by.
- I try to make time for myself by doing things I love like having lunch with friends, spending time with family, taking walks and finding new recipes to try.
- I count down to our next time together and usually end our conversations with that count down.
The holidays are just around the corner. This will be our first year not being together for Thanksgiving. Her school doesn’t have the full week off and with Christmas break so close, she doesn’t think the trip is necessary. While I’m heartbroken, I understand and support her decision and will find a way to make her Thanksgiving special from afar and look for new traditions that we can start.
My advice for parents trying to cope is feel what you feel and encourage your kid to do the same.
It’s a big life change. Give yourself some grace. Keep the lines of communication open to share any and everything. Pray and go to therapy if you need to. There’s no one size fits all approach to anything, so do what’s best for you and your family.
If you have additional tips to share, please comment below! I’ll take all of the advice!