Letting Go: Sending Your Child Off to College

Where we love is home, Home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., Homesick in Heaven

Guest post by Kalpana Krishna-Kumar, Project Specialist – Digital Marketing at Coldwell Banker Real Estate

Open confession – I have a problem with letting go – of any kind – people, places and things! I spoke about letting go of my country of birth in an earlier blog post about relocating to America. Another huge event in my life was letting go of my first-born – sending him off to college. It really was a watershed time in my life. I still remember walking away from him, thankful that my husband and daughter walked right next to me because I could not see anything in front of me through the curtain of tears that simply would not stop. The next month felt like, felt like, felt like… Remember Diane Keaton’s crying scene from the movie Something’s Gotta Give? That was me – except I was crying because I had sent off my baby into the wilderness called LIFE. But since I am here to tell the story, it behooves that I survived! It wasn’t easy, but I did do a few things that helped me through it. Here’s a peek:   

Talking helps

I talked to as many people that would suffer me and as many times as I needed. Jokes apart, I spoke to family, friends, and other parents who had done this before me and those that were going through it. I realized,

  • I was normal
  • I was not alone and I had awesome friends and family who reached out to me with their experiences and those I could reach out to.
  • I was not the first mom or the last to send her “baby” off to college.
  • It really is the Circle of Life! I had to move on. I could not continue to live under the cloud – a realization I had, thanks to those who whined longer, louder and shriller than me – Gosh, I could not be the one inflicting that on others.
  • Time is a great healer

Comfort in Routine

It was important for us to continue the family routines that we had before my son left. For instance, family dinner continued to be at the dining table sans electronic devices and TV. In addition, keeping an open channel of communication with the college-bound was paramount. So a call or text from him became part of our routine. I am eternally grateful that my son was good about staying in touch – not only in the first month but throughout his college years. Though it did not take too long to adjust to the low volume of laundry or dirt that was dragged through the house, it did take me much longer to adjust to cooking for just one less person. However, routine was a great healer, as was time (by Thanksgiving, my son was back with his load of laundry).

There isn’t a child who hasn’t gone out into the brave new world who eventually doesn’t return to the old homestead carrying a bundle of dirty clothes.  ~Art Buchwald

Shift Focus

The months (and perhaps couple of years) leading to this event was all about my son, college admissions, SAT, financial aid, dorm room shopping and more college stuff. There was much to be done and not enough time to do it. So when it all ended, the silence from the vacuum left behind was deafening. The elephant had left the room, but all of us were still side-stepping. So it became imperative that we all change our focus to life at hand. Here are the ones that saw us through the emotional times:

  • Our home: While my husband focused on DIY projects inside the house, I busied myself with the garden. Our home got a much-needed face lift and we were blessed with a beautiful garden that fall and following summer. It gave us tremendous satisfaction besides a constructive outlet to our emotions.
  • Our second child: She had all our attention now. The intensity wore off quickly as we backed away to an acceptable distance – letting her find her way through the maze of adolescence.
  • My career: With my son gone, I found the time to look outside my comfort zone and focus on my career – that has paid incredible returns.
  • We got a dog! Training and caring for the puppy was most therapeutic for the entire family.

How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?~Dr. Seuss

It’s time again for us to start preparing to send my daughter off to college now. Am I ready? By God – No! But I have the tools and the knowledge that “This too shall pass”! It is what my husband and I have worked for and wanted so much. I take comfort in the fact that we have done our job in imparting good values and life skills. It is now time for them to test drive what they have imbibed. This time around, my husband and I are looking ahead and preparing for the second journey.

I remember college being the happiest time of my life – where I made friends and memories, had heartbreaks and found my love, took life for granted and learned life lessons that I have never forgotten. I have to believe that the same lies ahead for my children and in the words of Lee Ann Womack – “I hope you dance”!

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
~Dr. Seuss

Victoria Keichinger is the Vice President, Brand Marketing for Coldwell Banker Real Estate. When she's not managing national media and advertising for the Coldwell Banker brand at work, she finds herself most at home in Jersey City, NJ with her pre-school crush turned spouse and son. A true Francophile, she loves to travel and will go anywhere there are ski slopes.

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