Sunday, August 09, 2015

My 10 motherly gems for a daughter starting her adult life

I was going to write something when my older daughter turned 18 in June, and then write something else when she went off to college, but then I thought since they are both so close I'd just kill two birds.

As just about all of us adults know by now, hindsight is 20/20. You especially see it online, there is article after article, blog after blog about preparing children for college and living on their own. Some are helpful, some you can tell are written in a drunken Xanax-ridden state from a parent who is having a hard time letting go.

So I'm going to throw mine into the fray, sober and sipping coffee. 10 pieces of advice as my first born goes off and starts the path of adulting (it's a word, because I say so).

Allison, this is for you.

1. Join a club. You found things you loved in high school; Soccer, archery, photography. I hope you seek one or two of these out and continue to enjoy them.

2. Exercise. If you can't join a club right away (which is totally fine, you have a full schedule of engineering and honors classes), then just find time to exercise. Yes, I know you will be walking all over campus every day to classes. I'm talking about 30 minutes of something to get your heart pumping and relieve some stress. Did you see the rock wall and the indoor track at the recreation center? It puts the dinky ones here to shame. SHAME.

3. Read the news. Even if it's just headlines from your area, it's so important to know what's happening out there beyond the college walls. You don't have to read in-depth articles and commentary (unless you want to), but daily local and world headlines will do. 

4. Vote. We've already talked about this a little, and I know right now you don't see it as a top importance. That's cool, but at least register. Who knows, something you learn by following #3 might drive you to take action. It's the simplest way to be a part of the process. Ok I'll shut up now about that, I feel your eye-roll and you haven't even read this yet.

5. Eat well. I don't mean organic-vegan-paleo-gluten free-blessed by a Yogi. Just eat an apple and have a salad once in awhile. PS- pass this one on to your boyfriend, I think he needs this advice more than you.

6. Use the resources available. You are lucky, you chose a university that is smaller and very easy to get around. Most universities are a town inside a town, but you can really feel that in this campus. So many resources are available and easy to access. Take the time and make sure you know where to go for what you need. You would only need a couple of hours on a weekend to get to know your campus.

7. Ask for help. This one will be easy for you, all of your schooling from elementary through high school was geared towards asking for help when you needed it. It seems to be more encouraged in smaller schools, and this puts you at an advantage because you already know how to ask for help. Don't forget, and never feel as if you can't or shouldn't ask. You always can.

8. Be aware of where you are and who you are with. I'm not saying you need a background check before you go to new places, I'm just saying know where you are. Heading to a party off campus? Know the address and where it is from your dorm, so you know how to get back (i.e. Google is your friend). If you feel uncomfortable, and you're not sure you want to stay, then leave. If someone else drove, call Uber. We'll reimburse you. There are some great apps here for safety. I'm certainly not a paranoid person, but I also believe in having too much information instead of not enough.

9. Party responsibly. I'm definitely not going to say you can't drink until you are 21. Yeah, legally you can't, but I know better. Again, it comes down to awareness and not overdoing it. Really it's about two things. One, get your own drinks unless you know who is handing you one, and two, it might taste like Kool-Aid but IT'S NOT KOOL-AID. See tips in #8, because they apply here too. Especially being aware of who you are with should you happen to drink too much. Also remember that everyone has a smartphone with a camera.

It's funny because I write this thinking "oh she would never." Then I think about me. Then I think about your Uncle Andy, who was the opposite of me. I'm just going to leave this here. Take what you want from it (and don't ask your Uncle Andy about "purple nurples.")

10. Text your dad. I already know you'll get in touch with me when you need me.

No, I'm not void of emotion. I love you and I'm going to miss you, and I imagine there will be some tears when we drive away after dropping you off at your dorm. I'm losing my Supernatural and Walking Dead watching buddy. It's weird not knowing if you're coming home for Thanksgiving this year or not. But my heart is not breaking and I'm not wandering around aimlessly feeling like there is going to be great loss in my life. You're not dying, quite the opposite. I'm so excited for you as you set off on this adventure. As you know, my upbringing was a bit different than yours. College and going off on my own didn't work out in quite the same way. When I knew I was going to become a mother, my goal was to make you (and your sister) as independent of a person as possible, and not be too clingy so when this day did come YOU were sure you could handle it. I have never been more confident that you can.

I'm hoping you have that confidence too.  If you're ever in doubt, see numbers 6, 7, and 10. Repeat as necessary. We are just a 3 hour drive away, and Lizzie is transportable.

The path to adulting is one you will always be on. As long as I'm here, you'll never be alone on that path.