College Mom: I’m Trying, But It’s Hard

We dropped our first born off at university this week. We have spent the last year plus supporting him as he got ready. From taking AP classes and exams, to doing half of his senior year of high school at our community college, our son was looking forward. We thought frequently about how the transition to college would be for us all, and he and I often would tell each other that we would certainly miss one another and that it would, yes, feel very weird.

Well, it does. I didn’t even shed a tear until I walked into the house after we drove home without him. Our house, minus one of our children, just doesn’t feel like our home. Walking into his bedroom brought me to tears. The boy is gone, at least until Thanksgiving break, and I have to get used to the change.

We left him seeming excited and confident, and for that, I am deeply grateful. He is competent to meet the academic challenges ahead, and has support for everything else.

I’ve been comforted by the texts we have sent back and forth a couple of times a day since we separated. Does that qualify for a helicopter parent? I don’t think so. I have told my husband that I think my/our job continues to be to love and support our son. As for decisions and problems? They now belong to him. And he needs to confront them so he can develop his individual skills with people and their strange, strange ways.

Of course, sharing space with others is always a challenge. I want him to be able to get his own needs met, live with compromise, and assert himself. This is what I am struggling with. He is a really, really nice guy, and doesn’t always speak up for himself. I’d love to swoop in and solve an issue or two, like a therapist could. But I. Must. Not. Interfere.

He knows where we are. He knows how to speak his mind. He knows what he needs. As my friends who have traveled this road before are good at reminding me, we have taught and modeled problem solving all his life. He has a set of values that are worth defending. I need to let him figure out his own boundaries, and how he is going to manage them. He’s just getting started.

Just so you know: it’s a lot easier to say than to feel. I think I have more to learn about this change than my son does. I used to know what being his mother meant. It’s something very different now. It’s pretty hard to stop being his champion, defender, provider and comforter just like that. But just like that, that is exactly what my life is asking of me now.

Thank you, God. Help us all.

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Tiger Woods : How Far the Great Have Fallen

With news this morning that Tiger missed the cut in the latest PGA tournament, sports journalists are beginning to comment on his astonishing fall from golf and sports greatness. It does seem as if his personal and professional troubles have created a failure that reminds us of an airplane in free fall. How could someone with such unusual talent lose it so disastrously?

There is something of gloating in all this talk, too. After all, who among us doesn’t feel just a bit of pleasure in seeing the untouchable hero now seem so human?

While the sports writers opine over this and that detail, it seems sadly simple to me. He is suffering, and his life is demonstrating the difficulty he is having holding all the pieces of his super-star world together. What propelled him to greatness – his focus, consistency, precision, unflappability – are all possible because he once managed an internal calm. Even if that calm was managed, or maybe controlled, even masked, by dozens of handlers, unlimited resources and a sex addiction. What we are seeing is a man whose masks have been ripped away, and what is left is the internal chaos, doubt, confusion and frustration that remains.

I hope, for his sake and the sake of his children, he can heal his mind (and his chronic injuries) and successfully return to the game around which he shaped his life. It doesn’t matter if he returns to his former greatness. I doubt that is possible. But what is possible is a re-made adult life, a life he can live in the long run, a healthier, happier, more whole self.

And wouldn’t that be a fabulous story? I just doubt it will make the front page of the Sports sections. No matter. It will make for a better life.