Another Thursday: Thoughts from a College Mom

Today is Thursday. It is the twelfth Thursday since I became the mom of a college student.

Twelve Thursdays ago, we moved our older son into the dorm and then headed home.

Honestly, it was a little more complicated than that. We moved him into the dorm, then went to lunch, picked up a few things he needed, went back to the dorm to finish up, and then drove away.

Before we started back to Kansas City, we met our cousin for dinner. My son opted out because he had a dorm meeting. That’s when it really hit me: His life was mostly separate from ours now.

The last twelve weeks have been a series of small adjustments. Some of these changes I anticipated and others caught me by surprise. I expected that seeing his empty room would be hard and it has been. The dog spends time every day laying on his bed. When I walk down the hall, she raises her head and makes eye contact with me. We both sigh, missing our boy.

Somehow we have a lot less garbage. Instead of jamming as much as we can into our two allotted bags, we have one normal-sized bag sitting on the curb each week. How did one kid generate so much trash? Keep in mind, we still have one kid at home.

I always get a good parking place in the driveway now. No more squeezing my car into the third spot or sliding around the basketball goal as I back out.

I look more things up on Google. My college kid is a storehouse of sports information. It had been years since I found the answer to a college football question on my own. Now, I’m back reading the internet like everyone else.

Our little family of three has developed new habits. We watch Master Chef together after dinner. Even before COVID-19, my older son preferred bringing carryout food home to eat.  Since he’s been gone, we’ve masked up and headed out to restaurants every now and then — This is the only answer I’ve come up with regarding the garbage reduction. We still make our Saturday morning coffee runs, and I usually tear up before we get home.

Some days I feel guilty that our lives have gone on so seamlessly. I wonder if we should be missing him more or calling him more often. Is it okay that we’re having fun without him?

It’s sort of like having a sore tooth. If you’re careful and chew a particular way and only eat certain foods, it doesn’t hurt. But if you forget for just a minute to guard against the pain, it comes rushing back.

Most of the time, I navigate carefully enough to avoid being overwhelmed by sadness.  Sometimes, I’m not quite cautious enough, and I find myself awash in feelings.

My kid loves where he is and what he’s doing. I compare notes with other college moms.  We agree that it’s easier because they’re happy. We’re a little sad and that’s okay.

I’m counting down the weeks till I see him again. One more Thursday till he’s home for a wedding. Then three more till he’s home until January. The dog and I are watching for our boy.



Beth is mom to a high school sophomore and a first year college student. After fourteen years as a professional writer and editor, she earned graduate degrees in counseling and play therapy. Now she exercises her creativity as a school counselor. Beth loves reading, especially mysteries.