Friday, August 8, 2008

Leaving the Nest!

Today's Wonder of the World is...My First Chickadee Is Leaving the Nest!

Exactly one week from today, we'll taking her off to college.
Can it be?
(Cue the music. Memories, light the corners of my mind... )
Stop, you! Don't run off, afraid of a little sappiness!
I've got questions, people! I need your advice.

But first allow me to ruminate just a sec.
(Ruminate is a funny word. Don't cows do that? And sorry if I'm a bit weirder than usual today. I'm trying my best not to hyperventilate. Not only is my sweet precious baby Sarah heading off to college, but Ben got his driver's license day before yesterday, and I'm seeing my life flash before my eyes!)

And here it goes, flashing again!
Just yesterday Sarah went from this little munchkin...

To this sweet girlie

To ma petite fille in France

To this smiley teenager back in the USA

To this graduate.

And now, in a mere week, she won't live with us anymore!
Not full time, anyway.
She's going to be fine. She really will. But how will I survive?

So people, I need to know two things. Pretty please with sugar and a cherry on top, be generous. Share your thoughts. And your sister's thoughts, and your neighbor down the street's thoughts. Why don't you just send out an email and send folks my way, because I'm trying to stay calm, but I've had a little too much coffee and the clock is ticking loudly in my ear, and a week from today is getting closer by the second!

Whew. I should find some chocolate.

First question.
(1) When you flew the coop and started your new life, what did you take with you that really came in handy and that a slightly frazzled mother wouldn't have thought of?

Here's some of what we have so far:
Loads of bed linens, because the girl loves a comfy bed. (Remember the only thing she would ask for Christmas last year was a good pillow.)

Plenty of plastic storage items.

A nifty laptop. And a mirror, so she can watch herself make A's.

A microwave. (Her roommate is bringing the mini-fridge. Which they will only use to store healthy food items and milk. And maybe juice.)

And a new pair of glasses that no one has ever sat on.

We still have to buy her one of these, because, thanks to her daddy, she has this crazy idea that some clothes need to be ironed occasionally.

(I don't usually have the iron set up in the kitchen/dining room, but I've been sewing the past few days, making bed skirts for her and her roomie to use for hiding all their plastic storage stuff. Yes, you can call me Betty Homemaker. Unless you peeked through my window and saw me wrestling with my sewing machine and then you tunneled into my brain and heard all those not so nice words I was saying inside my mind. Betty Homemaker doesn't do that. Or maybe she does.)

So that's question one. What does the girl need that I haven't already thought of? And while you're at it, do you have any other advice for Sarah for her freshman year? I told her I was going to ask you, and she's excited to see what you think.

Question Two: What am I going to do without my Sarah at home?
I really can't imagine it. I mean, I'm thrilled for her, really I am. She's about to enter one of the most exciting times in her life, and I can't wait to hear all about it.

But Sarah is my buddy. She understands me and I understand her. She is one person at our dinner table who puts her napkin on her lap without being reminded. And she laughs at my jokes and doesn't burp in public. (Unless it slips out by accident.) She reads what I write and tells me how wonderful it is, and she watches old movies with me and we talk about the clothes and the furniture. And she's just fun to be around.

I could go on and on, but for now, do any of you have coping techniques for moms of kids starting college?
I'm a busy person, and I won't be sitting around moon- faced, staring out the window. (Or who knows. Maybe I will.) But this child has lived with us for more than 18 years, so it's going to be an adjustment.
Ideas anyone?
What can I do to help Sarah adjust?
What I can I do to help myself adjust?

I'm all ears!
And all heart. I'm taking it off my sleeve now and sending it with her on this pillow.

Thanks, y'all. You're the best.
I can't wait to hear your ideas!

Love, Becky


Anonymous said...

we...sniff...have offer...
it goes by so fast

Uncle Steve and Aunt Leah
(hugging Susie "too tight")

Denise said...

Ah, we did this last year. Now she is off for her second year.....

Time goes by soooo fast!

Sherry Martschink said...

This reminds me the time I said "goodbye" to daughter Tiffany as she left for boot camp in the Army! Now that's a frightening experience. She was only 4'11"; later we joked that the Army had to get her uniforms from Toys 'R Us. When I sent children off to college, they were at least nearby AND could make phone calls. Tiffany wasn't nearby nor could she make phone calls.

Suzie said...

oh my...that is so sad... My father used to stick a large salami in my suitcase every time I visted it would make me mad but I always got desperate and ate it. you'll be fine now you will start a new life and find new friends oh my Im emotional again. Gotta go.

Ele at abitofpinkheaven said...

You have made my cry:( We are going to turn that around to :)
I've sent two children off and all I can say is you will survive. Lots of phone calls. (She will call you) You will shed some tears, but will be stronger in the end. Your relationship will prosper and you will love each other even more. This I promise you. (a family picture for her AND a phone)

StitchinByTheLake said...

Answer to question #1: microwave recipe book. You can make it - just google microwave recipes, print some off and make her a little recipe book from Mom. You really can do meals in there, not just warm stuff up. Can she have a crockpot? If so, recipes for it, too.
Answer to question #2. Only time will make the difference. Oh, you can join more things, teach more classes, write more, clean more, ad nauseum. But only time will fill the hole.
My best advice: decide before she leaves how often you will talk. Ask her how many times it's acceptable to call her? She, of course, can call you ever hour if she wants to, and she might at first. But it's not ok for you to call her that often, so what's acceptable to her? :) Blessings, marlene

Wendy said...

Laundry basket. My aunt gave me one when I left for college and I was astonished that I hadn't thought of it. She also filled it with useful things like detergent and softener. I'll be squeezing my little girl tight today. Apparently 5 to 18 doesn't take too long at all.

LarryG said...

hmmmm - well... give her a few days she'll let you know if she missed something...
nothing could be a greater pleasure than providing that first care package - be it shipped ups or delivered in person... :)

Qugrainne said...

Her phone? Where is her phone? Does she have free long distance to call you? Will you pay the phone bill? Talk - often!

I cried all the way home after dropping my son off, four years ago. And I definitely couldn't let him know exactly how much I missed him, because it put too much pressure on him. I won't even go into the roommate horror stores. I am glad your daughter has a friend for roomie.

Health care!! Did she get all of the shots she needs? Especially the one for meningitis? She really has to have that one. Insurance card? Does she know she can go to the school clinic if she gets sick? I am going to hyperventilate now.
Vitamin C, Echinacia, ibuprofin, tissue...

My son graduated this past spring, and now he is moving to New York. Ahhhhhhh. I have to go through the separation thing all over again!?

Good luck, Becky. It is hard, but you will survive. Just tell your daughter to have patience with you.

Sarah, make sure you get enough sleep.

Rosemary said...

This is a very sad thing. I remember it well. My daughter went to college in 1999. Lots of phone minutes, lots of money for the washing machines!!!! A nice lap desk with lamp for sitting in bed.
It's weird at first, but you get used to it after awhile, I promise.
My daughter and I are the best of friends too!
Snack food, is another good one. They always need little munchies in their room.
My daughter met her husband at colloeg. Last Oct, they got married, bought a house 5 min from my house.
Good luck, and I really feel your pain.

Liz said...

My mom is shipping off her last baby this fall too... the last of three loud girls that leaves her house very silent. She's so upset.

When I went to college, mom packed a little box full of medicine. Sounds trivial... but that box of advil/tums/bandaids/sinusmedicine came in SO handy my freshman year.

Tara said...

I know you'll miss her but she always be your baby. And if all else fails to keep you occupied you can always try tatting! LOL Hugs to you.


May Vanderbilt said...

Well, I've only ever been the one who leaves. But I can tell you about that.

Answer to #1: Lots of stamps and lots of quarters for the campus washing machines...unless they use credit cards now. But she'd probably still use the quarters at the copy machines in the library or the snack machines all over campus. Also, a small fan if she is the sort that gets hot.

Answer to #2: I think I was just as sad as my parents were on the big day--but I didn't show it. Don't be shocked if she rolls her eyes a lot and sighs while you're there. The moment you leave, she'll be bursting into tears too.

Susan said...

Wow, how sad this must be for a Mom. I couldn't leave my Mom, we were just too close. I stayed home and went to work and took classes at the local college. If I had gone, though, I think I would have needed a compact, but complete sewing basket, as I sewed and did repairs for everyone. Hang in there, she'll be back, and back and back...Hugs!

Kathryn said...

Ugh. I'm bawling here. Sniff, sniff. Seriously. *sigh*

Sorry. No advice. Just prayers. :)

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Great ideas, folks!
Y'all really are the best.

And guess what? The frazzlement (is that a word?)continues! Ben's coach called from cross country practice this morning (soon after Ben drove himself there--the call nearly gave me a heart attack) and reported that he was in a freakish accident with a gate and needed stitches. So we spent the morning at the doctor's getting 6 stitches on his shoulder. But he's fine now and taking a long nap.
I think I need something stronger than coffee.

Any other ideas? I'll keep checking in.
A big hug to you!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Such a lovely girl. Wow.

I can only answer the first question, my kids are eons away from leaving our nest. I left home with plenty, but I'd have loved newsy, chatty letters from home on a regular basis once I left--just funny comics cut out, random stuff mailed that I could touch and let me know I was thought of and missed.

Sarah said...

aww thanks mom! and everybody! y'all are all very sweet. And mom, don't worry, I will probably call home way more often than you would like me to. :-)
Love you!

~~ATTIC CLUTTER~~ said...

Ya sniff sniff I see anonymous say..It is so sad ..Becky I feel for you, I remember those days..

Sarah is lovely and she will be ok I am sure...(:)She may think of you all back home when she comes up for air ,between all her fun (:)
... glad you came by and I found the baby pictures on Etsy..they are so cute aren't they ..big hugs and be brave dear mommy (:) ...Patty

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Sarah, it's not possible for you to call me too much!
Love you too babe!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

See now, this is why I have dogs!

Attic Rat said...

Take a deep breath and a big bite of chocolate and you will survive. My little birdie left the nest in May. I'm glad that he is only a phone call away and he has been good about calling. It was nice that he came home for a visit last weekend.

Did you pack laundry soap?

Cyber hugs,

TattingChic said...

Awwww...what a sweet post, it sounds like your heart is heavy and happy all at the same time.
Don't forget a few things that are just for comfort, an old photo, a stuffed animal, something like that and since you asked for advise I would say to Sarah to put your best foot forward in your studies and classes and have FUN, FUN, FUN while your at it. The freshman year at college can be the Time Of Your Life!

Paula Clare said...

Hi Becky,
WOW! Congrats...and CONDOLENCES! My son "flying the coop" was probably one of the toughest "life changes" I've ever had to negotiate. The BEST thing you can do is BRACE YOURSELF! (I began to do this my son's freshman year of high school...ending nearly every statement with, "Well, he'll only be with us 4 more years, 3 more years, 2 more years..." I knew I had to do the countdown aloud to get my head/heart to accept it when the time came.

It might be a good idea to plan something...ANYTHING to help keep you busy the first few months she's at school. I joined a few online art classes, and became ALOT more involved in church stuff. No, it doesn't make the hurting "stop", but it DOES help to fill those otherwise very QUIET hours in a house sans the teenager.

I had to keep bringing the "countdown" to my husband too. He is very much a "now" thinker...I am a "forward" or "future" thinker. This served me well in this case and helped me prepare. Him? Not so much. He was a basket case after we dropped the boy off at college and went back to our hotel room. (I was too, but I KNEW it was gonna hit like a ton of bricks...hubby dear acted quite surprised by it all! Can you imagine! After a 4 year countdown?!?!?!)

NOW, about what to bring...we stocked the boy up on groceries (to the tune of $200! That's aLOT of ramen noodles!) and shampoo, detergent, etc. Things he would HATE to have to spend money on. Funny, "squishy" bed linens and a body pillow are what he wanted most to bring from home too. He has a brushed flannel duvet and would NOT THINK ABOUT leaving it at home! While he lived in the dorm, it was up to him to "decorate" (or not). His dorm room looked like...well...a dorm room. However when he moved off campus he asked me to come and decorate his room like it was at home. He said it made a HUGE difference in helping him feel like he was "home" in his new residence. So I would suggest she take treasured and dear things from the house that she loves (even if it's a piece of furniture or a substantial piece of art! WHO CARES?!? Wouldn't you rather know it's bringing your "BABY" comfort than just leave it in the house for friends and family to ogle? (sit on, use, look at...etc. etc.)

I made him a photo album of 'home' of the trash can he despised taking out every week, photos of the bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, living room, yard, driveway, his favorite tree, etc. So he could take "home" with him. I photoshopped my head popping out of every picture saying, "You know I love you, right?" "You know you'll be missed, don't you?" "Remember, YOU ARE LOVED!" He acted like he thought it was overkill, but when we went to visit I saw it open on his desk. Of course, THAT made me cry!

Above and beyond ALL of these things, let her know that you will miss her, you love her dearly, and she can ALWAYS come home.Pray for her every single day. And trust that you've instilled good things in her that God will help bring to fruition in due season.

There, a long winded reply for a long winded series of questions!

I'll keep you in my prayers. It's been 3 years and I STILL have days where I just reeeeeeeeally wish he and I could jump in the car and go to the movies!

Jojo said...

Becky, I have to say that I have no advice on what should be packed up as every one of my 3 have been different in the things that matter to them. We always filled in the gap with some Target gift cards so that the kids could do some extra shopping with a roommate. As for surviving, I have a story to share. In August/September 2005 my oldest son shipped out to Iraq, my youngest left for college, my mom slipped into a comma in critical condition, we sold our house and moved after being there for 18 years and my dad was hospitalized with congestive heart failure and died shortly thereafter. My heart was hurting in so many places that I was almost paralyzed. The one thing that helped me in all of this was a mother's group. Several of my daughter's friend's mothers decided to get together once a month for dinner as created our own support group (and how I needed it)!!! It was so wonderful just to be with a group of friends who understood the sudden "silence" in our homes. The group also gave us a chance to talk about our child in a setting where we all got excited about every morsel of detail. If you have fellow moms to connect with, I strongly suggest you make a mom's group. It makes for fun and support all at the same time. Personally I couldn't have gotten through that period of time in my life without "a little help from my friends."

On a completely different note, I saw that you discovered Corey's website. Don't you love Tongue In Cheek??? I have been following her blog for a couple of years. In fact, she is the reason I began to blog. Last year when we went to France she helped me in mapping out the MARCHÉ AUX PUCES stops. It was especially exciting to open up my copy of Victoria Magazine which did a spread on Corey's collections and decor. She is a very special person.

You will be in my thoughts and prayers as you and your daughter make this passage. Just another wonderful stage our your beautiful daughter's life.

Alex said...

Awwww....I wish I had some advice to offer, but we do not have children just yet. ;-) Just remember, she is never too far for your love to reach! *hugs*

Rebecca Ramsey said...

How can I thank y'all?! What great ideas, for both Sarah and me. Your answers are from the heart, and I so appreciate your sharing your thoughts.
Give yourselves big hugs for me!

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Not to be advice greedy, but if you think up any more ideas, I'll be checking back!

Tara said...


I'm so sorry to hear about your son's accident with the fence. Hope he's feeling better soon.


Susan Sandmore said...

Agree with the laundry suggestion. A nice big basket or laundry bag will come in handy.

Along with a the first aid kit/aspirin suggestion, how about some scissors? I always seemed to be the person on the hall that people went to for scissors, stapler, hole punch, etc. You'd think other people would think to buy scissors, but no.

Make sure she gets all her necessary textbooks--that'll be a big help. Maybe it's something she'd rather do on her own, but make sure she can buy them and still eat. Textbooks cost approximately 3,000 % more than they did when we went to college.

Phone card or stamped postcards or cell phone minutes. Some way to easily keep in touch. But don't call her constantly. And if you do call and she doesn't answer the phone, don't show up on her doorstep early in the morning, saying "YOU DIDN'T ANSWER YOUR PHONE!! WHY??" (like *some* people's mom's did--*cough, cough*).

Let her be safe but let her be her own person. It's SO exciting a time. But you know her best--maybe she wants or needs lots of care packages and phone calls. ? I'd let her take the lead in that.

Music! You didn't mention music and it's something I didn't think too much about before I left for school, but once I was there, I missed it. I bought a small "boom box" stereo. And I don't think I would've made it through without my music. Maybe she does iTunes and an iPod, but whatever it is, if music makes her happy, it'd be nice if she had it around.

How about a plant? A nice poster or piece of art?

Have fun! Both of you!

Jojo said...

I just had to write back. Thank you for your kind note. My sister is always teasing me about my imaginary blog friends. Well, I got your hug and send one back to you. I am so glad to have met you and glad to call you friend.

Anonymous said...

Hi Becky
In 4 years I will be doing the same thing and I even cry about it now. As a graduation gift for my nephews, I gave them a college care package which was a large durable laundry bag filled with detergent, a stain stick, plenty of pens and pencils, computer paper, sticky notes, high-lighters. those stcky page markers from post-its, stapler, scissors, note-book paper,battery operated pencil sharpener, pop-corn, hot chocolate, band-aids and antibiotic ointment, a frisbee, ( they gotta have some fun) and a beach towel. During their exam time their first semester in school, I send a care package full of homemade goodies a mug with coffee or hot chocolate packs and even a goofy gag gift( one of those was a plastic reindeer that pooped M&M'S) My hear twill be with you and all of those moms who are releasing their babies for the first time. I just hope I will be able to hold it all together when that day comes. God Bless!

liquidambar said...

Most of what I needed in college, your daughter will no longer need, I suspect, but here's a list just in case:
quarters by the bucketload (for laundry, unless her laundry uses smartcards or tokens);
a clothes-drying rack (because there was always too much competition for the clothes dryers)
basic first-aid items: medicines for upset stomach, cramps; cough drops; Band-Aids; etc.;
cell phone & ATM card;
posters to brighten up the hideous cinder-block walls;
heavy socks/slippers if her dorm room is as freezing as mine was!;
popcorn popper (microwaves have rendered these obsolete, I think);
earplugs if she's a light sleeper.
Both of you may benefit from frequent care packages. I still remember the homemade chocolate-chip and peanut-butter cookies my mother sent.

Penny @ Lavender Hill Studio said...

Well, I see you have tons of great suggestions! I only had sons...and they kept moving back home...:-) Over and Over and Over again!

Glad to hear your sons run in with the gate wasn't too serious.

Jamie said...

I ran across your blog just coincidentally and saw your sweet post about your daughter. I might ramble on and on here, so sorry in advance!

When I left for college, my mom, dad, and younger sister all wrote letters for me that I opened and read before I left but that I took with me to college. I would read those letters a lot and I still have them! They were so helpful at 2am when I was missing my family or when I was feeling discouraged about school. I got homesick - a lot. But, I was in Florida and my family was in Oregon - quite a distance. I would call my mom and cry and tell her I wanted to come home and she would give me some tough love, telling me to stick it out. I later learned it broke her heart to hear me so homesick, but I'm glad she didn't cave in to my desire to hop on the next plane and quit school! :) Does she have things like a desk lamp, printer, printer ink, shower caddy, shower shoes (if she is sharing bathroom space), napkins (for all of that "healthy food"), plastic cups and utensils and bowls/plates, first aid like bandaids?

I also found this list online:

Good luck! Everything will be fine! :)

Jamie said...

Oh, and send her care packages with homemade cookies, boxes of crackers (even if you think she could buy them herself, food is ALWAYS welcome) and cheesy $1 items from Target. I treasured every box my parents sent whether big or small.

Especially holiday care packages like for Halloween and Valentine's Day. Oh I loved those.

Cathy ~ Tadpoles and Teacups said...

This wasn't around when I went to college, but with 2 of our birds away at school now, I've found that text-messaging has become an invaluable communication tool. I have even learned how to text. . . adequately!! Seriously, I can send a little message and not worry about being too intrusive into their new independence. :) And we still talk the "real" way too.
Blessings to you all!

LW said...

A flashlight, Band-Aids, vitamins, and tissues…

My son went last year he is my baby ….
He called everyday the first two weeks…thank god for cell phones.
By the third week he only called a few times a week… it was than that I knew everything was going to be
Ok for the both of us…..

I so enjoyed having him here during this summer and I will I miss him all over again in Sept.…


Mama Zen said...

I can't even imagine!

Rolls and rolls of quarters for the laundromat!

Anonymous said...

oohhh....this gives me a nice little "cry lump" in my throat. Seriously. My baby girl is not even 2 yet, and I can't imagine that there will ever come a day when she's not with me. Ouch.

~~ATTIC CLUTTER~~ said...

(:) Oh you are welcome Becky dear..I know how it feels to have them leave the nest..not an easy thing..
yup smell that Goddess perfume(:) always fun to try new things an smell good doing it..HUgs, Patty

Bossamama said...

I empathize with you. Even though my oldest daughter just turned 7 and my littlest 2 - I think about them leaving home all the time! I can't imagine the day we will separate. But that's what were supposed to hope for, right? A fully formed young adult- with endless potential and a thirst for independence. It hurts, but think of the pride you will feel- you're sending off a wonderful gift to the world! (I try to think about that when thoughts of my babies growing up and going away crowd my head.) Best wishes to you!

Doreen said... youngest(kurt) leaves in 2 weeks!!!! My oldest (Jenna) is on her 3rd's sooo hard isn't it...our children grow up... a a the blink of an eye!!!

Looks like you have everything that she needs...except food..and bathroom about a French Press....for making her coffee and tea..and a nice big fat mug. AND SEND LOTS OF CARE PACKAGES..COLLEGE STUDENTS LOVE TO GET CARE PACKAGES...did you have an alarm clock there for her..i didnt could go on and on.. ...I'm sure I'll forget something for my own two...thankfully mine are both going to the same college..and it's only 3 hrs from that helps me tremendously...

Call often..she won't mind it and it will help you a lot!!!


Susie Q said...

Oh sweet lady...we just had dinner with friends who were in town to leave their 18 year old here at college. I know it was easier for them to know there was someone near by if she needs anything but is never easy.
They grow up way too fast...
This is a bittersweet time for you.
Happy and proud yet worried and a little sad.*sigh* It is never easy.

Lots of phone cards or that unlimited minutes cell phone will ease some pain. Lots of change for the laundry room. Care packages from home filled with all manner of sweet, fun and very silly things.

A first aid kit, desk lamp, soft sheets and coverlets. Duvets with washable covers.
GREAT pillows...a teddy bear!
Bright desk lamp and extra bulbs.

Send many cards...lots and lots of cards! Perhaps give Sarah a small stack of cards she can use to send family and friends from college! Postcards to...all with postage included!

Microwave recipes, microwave dishes and popcorn.

Family photos..the sillier the better.

Posters or pictures for the walls. How about a pretty plant? I even had a goldfish. i could not have my dog or cat so I had to have a pet to *talk* to occasinally! : )

I know, silly huh?

These ideas have already been given probably but hey.

I wish Sarah a fantastic year and know she is off on a great adventure, taking with her, her loving family's thoughts, prayers and hearts.

Love to you all,

Rebecca Ramsey said...

I am so lucky to have y'all as friends! Thanks so much for your smart ideas! You really are the best!

Lisa said...

When I left for college, my parents did things that surprised me - took tennis lessons and ballroom dancing lessons, and bought their first microwave (!) Yeah, that was 1982. I suggest that you and Todd find a fun class that you can take together. Also, buying a new appliance wouldn't hurt either, especially if it's something you've been craving.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Hey Lisa!
That's great! I didn't know your mom and dad ballroom danced!
I'm afraid all the college stuff has drained the budget for a new kitchen counter top (which would be my choice rather than an appliance) but a class would be fun. The boys will continue to keep us busy, but maybe we could do something've got me thinking!
Give yourself a hug for me!

CC said...

No ideas here. Sorry.

My mom's biggest fear was that I'd want to go to college on the other coast, fall in love, get married, and stay living 3000 miles away...

Guess what I did? (not that your daughter would, of course not!)