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Family, Parenting

Getting oriented to the new normal

It has been a quiet couple of days. I’m not tripping over 17 pairs of cute size 5 shoes left in the doorway.

No dishes are piled in the kitchen sink. (The task of bending over to put them in the adjacent dishwasher is — let’s face it — arduous.)

We’ve not been inundated by the throbs of strange music from the second floor, or the lip gloss, sunglasses, gum wrappers and other teenage detritus that is usually left all over the house.

Catherine’s been at Hofstra New Student Orientation since Tuesday. Basil will drive back to Hempstead, NY, today to pick her up.

Like my pin?

Like my pin?

We went to orientation, too, but just for the day. There we were, southbound on I-95 at 7:30 Tuesday morning, a carload of nerves and anxiety (Catherine, too).

At the dorm where we dropped her off, she was whisked away (I tried to get a photo under Basil’s reproving glare, but succeeded only in capturing the flash of her pink suitcase).

There was no choice but to park the car and join the lemming-like parade of Mom jeans and golf shirts to the sessions for those of us paying the bill.

Save for a photo of her freshly made dorm bed, we didn’t hear from Catherine all day.

By the time we chose our box lunch and settled in for the midday session on all things IT, however, we’d begun to relax a bit.

It’s likely because the steady stream of rules, regulations, policies, suggestions, advice, handouts and deadlines had scrambled our brains.

Still, we looked askance at the helicopter parents in our midst.

We privately ridiculed the mother who monopolized a full 5 minutes of the Public Safety Q&A with endless questions about how her daughter would register her car to park on campus.

By the time we slunk back to the car, though, our resolve was flagging.

Basil found lots of time to fidget with the car windows and A/C.

He stopped for a cigarette, wondered aloud if they’d let us see Catherine before we left. I assured him that was unlikely.

We settled for a phone call and left an over-cheery, silly voice-mail that likely caused her to cringe.

Then we (only) half-joked that if we pressed our faces against the windows of the dorm building, they’d HAVE to let us in.

Finally, though, we put the car in Drive and ever … so … slowly started our way down Hempstead Turnpike, feeling more than a little out of sorts.

About Terri S. Vanech

Wife, mother, communications specialist, Jazzercise instructor and recently reunited adoptee. I'm living out loud -- and trying to make it all work -- in midlife. Having a sense of humor sure helps.


8 thoughts on “Getting oriented to the new normal

  1. Wow, that’ll be me in 6 years. How scary! I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready for my babies to grow up… Isn’t there some way we can freeze time? I admire your calmness, and I’m pretty sure they would’ve let you in if you pressed your faces on the window long enough 🙂

    Posted by Nikki | June 26, 2014, 9:06 pm
  2. That sounds a lot like us dropping our first child off on the first day of school at age 5. Same but different.

    You tell the story bravely, if not with some detachment, but I couldn’t read it without shedding a tear or two. I love your metaphor of lemmings in mom-jeans and polo shirts. I’m sure she feels comforted having such a loving fan-base to come home to.

    Posted by Jackie | June 26, 2014, 7:25 pm
  3. You’ll get accustomed to the quiet pretty quickly. Wish I could find the parents’ booklet from Stine’s boarding school. It was a huge help on letting go. One of the bits of advice that was helpful is not to get upset over the panicky phone calls — I hate it here; I’m miserable. By the time you rush down to rescue her, she’ll have forgotten she even called you. Stine used to call and tell us she was the dumbest person on campus, didn’t belong there. Somehow she still managed to graduate with honors.

    Now, practice talking to each other about something other than Catherine!

    Posted by Karen Waggoner | June 26, 2014, 11:49 am
  4. It will get easier- I promise! I am sure she had a ball. Can’t wait to hear her stories and descriptions of people.

    Posted by Jacquie | June 26, 2014, 9:35 am

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