I am deviating from my regularly scheduled programming to treat you to a guest post written by my hilarious college roomie and dear friend, Julia. Although Julia is not a blogger, she is a talented writer who also has a thriving business at Write About Now, a writing service specializing in toasts, speeches and bar/bat mitzvah candle-lighting ceremonies. Julia is also a mom to three boys, but started her family much earlier than me (she was pregnant with her second son at my wedding). With her wealth of experience in the raising boys department, Julia taught me early on to always keep my sense of humor with a house full of testosterone and to be prepared for a lifetime of disgusting poop, fart and burp jokes. She was right on with her advice and has successfully launched two of three boys (with the third not far behind) out of the house and into college. Here is her story of how she found a way to communicate with one of her sons while he is away at college. I know you will enjoy it!
I’ve always considered myself an effective communicator. I’m not in the habit of holding back when I feel strongly about something and I try to apply the same rules to everyone, including my children. Like my sweet college roommate, Oh Boy Mom, I too have three sons, aged 20, 18 and 17. Son #1 goes to college fairly close to home and we speak/see one another often. Son #2 chose to leave South Florida to attend New York University in Manhattan.
We dropped him off at the dorm on a sunny August day, excited at the prospect of the many new experiences awaiting him. We returned to our lives.
And I waited.
I waited for the first call. The one full of wonder and awe as he integrated himself into independent living. The one where he bubbled over, eager to tell us about his new friends, interesting courses, challenges of doing laundry.
It never came.
After two weeks, I saw him on Facebook one morning and IM’d “Hi how are you?”
Just a couple words in response and he was off to class.
I was disheartened. And then I was angry.
Did I really spend 18 years taking care of this child to be completely ignored? Disregarded? Even worse were my well intended friends that asked: “How is B doing at school?”
The truth was, I had no idea. I hadn’t had a conversation with him since he left.
I let my hurt feelings simmer until I realized that nothing would change if I didn’t step up and behave like an adult, like a parent. Finding a new approach was the only approach. Because B, in the midst of New York City and his new adventure, had no idea how I felt. When Oh Boy Mom and I were in school, we called our parents weekly a) because it was expected and b) there were no other forms of instantaneous communication!
B is not a big fan of the phone, so I reached out by text. Each time I started a conversation, I got a response immediately.
I found he was happy to chat, on his terms.
And I realized that my expectations of him were rooted in a very different time and place, based on MY experiences. When we went up to visit last week, it was a pleasure to see how easily our suburban boy had acclimated to the big city.
And there was much to discuss and enjoy…face to face.
Julia Steiner is a mom of three sons, the last of whom will graduate from high school in 2014. A practicing certified personal trainer, she loves to write, bake and hula hoop. Julia and her husband the doctor live in South Florida and hope to one day own and operate a cat sanctuary ☺.