We just returned from a week long trip to California to attend our son’s college graduation and participate in “the great dorm clean-up.” Don’t misunderstand, it was a joyous occasion — but one that included the ever present sense of a mountain to climb against a ticking clock.
The week, from my point of view.
Arrive! Meet Jake! Learn he needs to be vacated by Monday at 8am!
Visit dorm, resist heart attack, dismiss any notion this will be a vacation.
Feel sense of panic and an unseen freight train quickly approaching.
Try to help.
Hear Jake say he has it “under control” and will “take care of it later.”
Go to hotel, fall into bed, dream of son being buried alive in dirty clothes.
Go to Bookstore. Give college more money.
Meet Jake with thoughts of garbage bags and haz-mat suits swirling in my head.
Try to help.
Advised by son with four years of high-priced problem solving skills that dorm room can wait.
Tour Pasadena, hike a canyon, eat a two-pound burrito.
Pick up Jake’s newly tuned-up mountain bike from bike shop.
Pick-up large bike box to ship other (road) bike which still needs to be dismantled and packed.
(The road bike will fly home with us, the mountain bike will fly home later with Jake.)
Jordan and her calm brother on our Pasadena hike.
Allowed to help in dorm room, make small dent.
Attend graduation luncheon while Jake’s $900 mountain bike is stolen from his vacant suite.
Jake looks for bike and makes unproductive police report.
Take advantage of Jake’s unfortunate distraction, make BIG dent.
Wonder where I went wrong as I’m engulfed in piles of dirty clothes and 4 months of grime.
Commiserate with other speechless parents drowning in their own son’s sea of procrastination.
Realize my son is “normal,” stop blaming myself, join “parents of messy sons club.”
Do five loads of laundry. Husband dismantles and packs road bike. Dorm room is half done.
Dinner out with Jake’s friends and their families. Reservations for 48!
Greet father-in-law and brother-in-law who arrive from NY.
Meet Jake for brunch in Dining Hall. Give college more money.
Resist asking about dorm room progress.
Commencement at 1:30.
Increase son’s net worth.
Goodnight and good luck to Jake who will spend his last night packing.
Go to hotel, fall into bed.
Receive text, Jake requests assistance between 7:30 – 8:00 in the morning.
Realize the job requires zero emotion and reckless abandon. I cannot go.
Husband goes to dorm, I go to Starbucks. I enjoy my first ever Caramel Dolce Latte with my daughter, we leisurely sit by the pool, and I realize:
1. It’s my first relaxing moment since we arrived on Thursday.
2. I am to blame for my stress. I mismanaged the blurry line between helping and letting go.
3. I have serious issues with letting go.
4. I finally understand the obsession with Starbucks.
Jake packed up and moved out on time, and my husband returned unscathed. We drove to San Diego to visit family and celebrate two more college graduations with a homemade Italian feast. We toured San Diego, sat on the beach, ate the best Mexican food EVER, and traveled 14 hours to arrive home at midnight on Wednesday.
To close, my son may be messy, and he certainly procrastinates, but I couldn’t be prouder of him. He focused where it counted — on his coursework. Jake went to a demanding school, he worked harder than he’s ever worked, and in four years he walked out with a degree in physics. For that, among other things, I am very proud and grateful.