Overnight, I was elected to a new society of parents I didn’t realize existed.
If there is a special name for us, I’m not yet privy to it, yet I can pick out others of our ilk at just a glance.
We are the exhausted, beleaguered, at-the-end-of-our ropes parents of incoming college freshmen, and like gazelles meeting at a Saharan watering hole, we gather in the Home departments of various discount retailers.
You’ll know us by our haunted, pinched facial expressions and the pathetic triumph with which we clutch at fists full of carefully saved coupons as though they are lifelines.
We are usually female, but occasionally, one can spy a male member of our group shuffling in the back of the crowd, fuming since he’s missing some truly masculine activity simply because his muscles are needed to load crap into the back of the car.
Over the weekend on yet another round of forays with Catherine for dorm gear, I made eye contact with some of these folks. We had whole conversations with our eyes as our daughters (it’s usually daughters, not sons) debated the merits of one brand of sheet set over another or whined for a particular pattern or hue of “quick-drying towel.”
In Kohl’s, tensions overheated. A mother-daughter row over whether to buy a set of stacking drawers (Mom wanted them, Daughter wasn’t having anything like that in her dorm room) reached such a fever that we and the male member of that family scuttled over to another aisle lest we end up in the line of fire.
CVS was dotted with mothers and daughters arguing the merits of this conditioner or that body wash as they lugged baskets filled with various sundries.
In Target, where the pictured basket of goodies was purchased, the mood was lighter. But in Bed, Bath & Beyond, there was a certain “God when will this ever end?” vibe as we navigated our crammed carts along the too-narrow aisles overflowing with things we don’t really need but the kids wanted to buy.
The common theme, if I recall correctly, is an undercurrent of anxiety. The child is stepping out into the world, and that’s a scary time. It’s so much easier to argue about lamps and pillows.
Definitely! She’s anxious. We’re anxious. It’s one big emotional swamp!
Ah, the memories! First semester of the first year for the first child (a girl): weeks of shopping, hundreds of dollars, tears, arguments, laundry……
Last semester of college for third child (a boy): “Honey do you need anything for school?” “Maybe tissues.”