College Parent Weekend Happy Lessons Learned

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Thank you to my readers who have told me that you are enjoying my posts about my journey of becoming a half empty nest mom, as I call it.  The journey does indeed continue with today’s post about how awesome and a little tricky my son’s college parent weekend was for our family.  asu-parentsIt was mostly awesome, I am happy to report.  The tricky part came with the scheduling and the communicating between my boy and me, but I learned some good lessons from the experience and came home with a joyful and full heart.

We are in the season where colleges everywhere are hosting busy family weekends when happy parents reunite with their, hopefully, happy college kids.  And if the child is not so happy, then attending the college family weekend can be very beneficial as you check in on how your kid is adjusting.

My kid is doing so well that I really don’t hear from him that much.  Since he moved out on August 12th, which means six (sometimes very slow weeks for this adjusting Mama) have passed.  That has taking some getting used to on my part.  Although he stayed in town, he hasn’t come home to do laundry and for only one home cooked meal.  Just goes to show that one truly can’t predict the future, especially when it comes to our offspring!

So multiple emails were sent out to me from the university with invitations to all kinds of cool events.  I tried not to “hound” my college freshman.  I avoid “nagging” and “hassling” him about all kinds of topics now that he is supposed to be on his own and I am supposed to be letting go.

So I only “nudged” him a few times about which events he wanted us to RSVP to that we would attend. He told me several times that we would look at it later and that he would get back to me.

Here is where this gets tricky for this rookie college mom.  I was torn between continued hounding or letting it go and letting him take the lead.  I really was torn because I was SO excited to see him on this family weekend.

I decided to let it go.  Until the week of anyway.  And for those of you that know me, that takes me out of my comfort zone.  I like to get things scheduled, confirmed and listed on the calendar.

The calendar I used when my kids were younger.

The calendar I used when my kids were younger.

So finally the week arrived.  I contacted him again asking about a finalized plan.  Before I could blink, he answered.  But not by texting me.  He instead registered our family!  Wow!  I was surprised when I received the confirmation email.  Although I was a bit worried that we would be unable to attend every event as he had checked off the main RSVP box.

So again I had to consciously take a step back and let it be.  I so wanted to call him and sort through every detail one event by one.  My husband told me that would be tedious and not welcomed by our boy who is now doing a lot of things (like RSVPing our family) on his own.  As it should be.

So the weekend arrived and my college boy told me not to worry myself that we would not be attending the Friday morning festivities due to scheduling conflicts.  I was disappointed (only because any time at all I get with my son is SO cherished) but I said OK.

I disliked the “we missed you” email that I received from the college upon our absence.  Both my son and my hubs told me to let that one go and not to worry about it.

So I resisted my urge to write back with a giant apology.  I did send my short and sweet post-event regrets (couldn’t help it…proud to say that I was raised that way)!

Late that night, we received a text from our son to come an hour later to the Saturday morning events.  I felt annoyed but again let it go as I am adjusting to this parenting a young adult stage where micro-managing is no longer welcomed and resisted.  As it should be at this stage.

So that morning, I looked at the schedule again and noticed that coming later meant missing the meat of the event with only photo opps left with the college mascot.  Neither my son or husband had any interest in that!

So I made the mistake of texting (I should have called to clarify) my son to tell him (trying to hide my disappointment) that we weren’t coming at all that day since we missed the good stuff.  That we would meet him later for dinner and for the big football game.

He texted back asking me why.

That should have flagged me that he had some interest in discussing this.

Again I should have called, but I simply texted back the reason and that I knew he didn’t want to pose with Sparky the mascot.  I got a short “OK” reply.

Ugh….if only I would have called him to discuss!  In fact, later at dinner, my boy asked us again why we didn’t come later in the day.  It was then he let us know that we missed some super cool parts of family weekend.  What?!  The agenda I received showed that pictures with Sparky concluded the day! I was SO disappointed upon the realization that we missed some events.  Events that were interesting to my son. Events that would have given us MORE time with this guy that we miss so much.

So this balancing act of leaving them alone versus communicating in this text/social media driven new world got me!  Had I listened to my gut and instead balanced my instinct to call and really plan this family weekend thing, the confusion would have been avoided. And we would have spent more time with him at some of the cool offerings with Sparky pictures remaining optional.

Of course hindsight is 20/20.

But the happy ending is that we had a PERFECT night with our son and his girlfriend!  First a delish pregame dinner.  Here I am with a yummy Sangria flight with my son’s cutie pie girlfriend.  So fun! cpkThen we cheered at the very exciting game that saw a tie multiple times and ended up with us victorious, plus with a 4-0 beginning season record that the university hasn’t seen in quite some time.  2016-asu-gameWe truly had a perfect night!  In our ASU swag, stadium fireworks and all.  So much fun! asu-fireworks

And part of the reason that the evening stayed perfect is because I resisted the urge to further discuss why we missed the boat on our family college weekend planning and I didn’t let him know how disappointed I felt.  Because it really didn’t matter.  That was in the past.

He continuing to be away from our nest continues on in the future.  The present was now and we were having a wonderful time together. So no “I told you so” came out of my mouth, no disappointed expression appeared on my face.  I took my husband’s advice and just enjoyed the now.

The moments together that made last night the perfect night at our own personal version of family college weekend.  The five of us.  Our night.  Our unique college welcoming experience.

Because part of this new journey is letting my young adult plan his college events, make his decisions, choose his timeline.

But I did learn that next year I will call him to discuss the events so that we are on the same page and I don’t end up disappointed because we miss stuff.  He doesn’t end up scratching his head wondering why we decided not to show.

Communication is key, but so is letting go and letting him lead us in this new college student/parent world.  Texting is so awesome because most kids will actually text back.  But a call is also good and can be scheduled to be sure that all understand the plan.

Bottom line, go with your gut Mamas.  But do think it through as you continue through this new transition of parenting your young adult.

Also, if you can swing attending your college student’s family weekend (I realize that the outrageous tuition costs may prohibit yet another trip for long distance parents) I do recommend attending.  It was incredible to see our son.  To see him in person.  To hug him and to get a good feel that he is doing fine. To hear that he is meeting with his honors professor to further research a project (good move), enjoying the unlimited meal plan (oh good, worth the money), truly fitting in with roommate (so awesome) and considering a Europe study abroad summer program (this was news to us).

All good.  So good.  Our boy is adjusting, maturing and thriving.  And even sporting somewhat of a beard, which is also a new development.

This Mama loved feeling his scruffy face as he gave me a tight and loving hug upon our departure.
me-and-jack-asu-fam-weekend-2016Lessons learned as I am also adjusting and maturing in my new role as a college mom.  A happy college mom with a full heart.






  1. maryanne mildner says:

    enjoyed the article. Your family had a special experience with your college boy and his girlfriend after all was said and done. Loved the photos, too!

  2. Maryanne Mildner says:

    enjoyed the article. after all was said and done, even after missing some earlier events, you and family had a wonderful time with your college student and his girlfriend. Also enjoyed the photos sprinkled through the narrative. Thanks!

    • says:

      Thanks for leaving a comment. We sure did have a blast and it is so wonderful to see that our son is happy 🙂

  3. Wendy sanuik says:

    Love this! My boys don’t go until next August, but this is great advice.

    • says:

      Thank you Wendy. Next year will get here so fast so keep enjoying your time before your boys go to college! It really is a fun new chapter! I am wishing them much success and joy to you as well, as you experience this bittersweet stage!