My middle son is graduating in a few days and I am starting to wake up in a sweat wondering if I have taught him everything that he will need to know when he ventures off to college in the fall. I don’t know what it is with parenting that we think we only have 18 short years to form our children. I know I will continue to be his parent until we are both old and gray, but there is something about that high school graduation milestone that makes me feel like I am near the parenting finish line.
This isn’t my first rodeo with having a child graduate from high school. My oldest son graduated two years ago so I know what to expect. But the knowing is creating more anxiety this time around. I know that our home will never be the same. I know that holidays like Mother’s Day and my birthday will probably never have me surrounded with all of my boys again. There is a sadness that is deep but it is topped with pride and joy. I am proud of the young men my husband and I have raised. But I still worry and wonder did I teach them everything. So in order to help me sleep at night I created this list for him and for all the other students graduating this spring. The list is a gentle reminder of some life lessons that I hope he will remember.
1. Always take the time to listen: It may be at an inconvenient time. But when a friend needs you to sit and listen, always take the time. Some of my best parenting times are right before bed or during a short car ride. You don’t know in advance when you need to listen, but just know that you should always take the time as it could be a game changer in someone’s life.
2. Fold your clothes the minute the dryer stops: My theory is; if you don’t have time to fold the laundry then don’t start it. I would rather have you with baskets of dirty clothes than baskets of clean unfolded clothes. The minute that timer for the dryer dings, go and fold them. If you make this a practice you will avoid most ironing in your life and I can skip the advice of learn how to iron.
3. Rinse your dishes as soon as you are done: Nothing is worse than dried on food. It takes little effort to rinse a dish when you are done versus trying to do it three days later. If you do this and have the other people you live with do the same thing, you will live a happier life….trust me!
4. Go to 85% of your classes: If you attend the majority of your classes you will be ahead of most of your classmates. You may think this is an odd bit of advice and you would never think of skipping a class. The truth is that there will be a morning when the wind chill is -20 and you will want to sleep in. Save your skip class days for those days…when a warm bed is a better option than walking across campus.
5. Get involved: The best way to not be homesick is to make friends. The best way to make friends is to get involved. Join a fraternity, find a club or volunteer. Just find a few things with other students who have your same interests. Life isn’t as lonely when you surround yourself with like minded individuals.
6. Know when you not feeling well and should call home: Nothing is worse than being sick and not being home. There is a fine line of knowing when to call home so I can give some advice and TLC and laying in misery and waiting for the illness to pass. I remember forcing my boyfriend in college to go to student health as he was beyond sick. Sometimes you need the push from someone else to go and visit the doctor and sometimes you need to just get a bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup.
7. Communicate at random times: I don’t want to be one of those stalker moms who is texting or calling everyday. But I know I walk that fine line and can be that mom. So in order to help me out, keep in touch with me and let me know how you are doing. I want to know that you are being academically challenged and are making new friends. I have entertained the idea of renting an apartment in the town you are going to college in. Don’t worry, as I have plenty of other moms who want to be my roommates as this is a common desire! You should also keep in contact with your dad and brothers too.
8. Never stop wanting to learn: Always have a couple of books that you are reading. Some for pleasure and some for personal and professional development. Being able to have an intelligent conversation about a book you are reading is very impressive.
9. Hold the door open for the person that is walking behind you: This is a good rule for all of us to follow. Acknowledging the person who is behind you is a great way to show respect. Hold it open for both men and women as this is a lost art and when it happens to me it always makes my day! Oh and if you want to throw in opening the car door for the girl in your life, that would be heavenly!
10. Learn how to cook five dishes really well: You don’t need to know how to macerate a strawberry or butterfly a pork chop, but you should know how to cook some meals that are impressive to your friends. Basic chopping and cutting skills are important. Don’t forget to rinse those dishes when you are done!
To the outside world my son may be the responsible 18 year old young man, but to me you are still the little boy with the bowl cut who doesn’t speak but always observed life with a sense of intense fascination. You may be four inches taller than me but you will always be my little boy. Now I am going to have a good cry with the other moms as we have started a secret support group and I am the president!
To Joyful, Organized Living,