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What I Wish I Had Known Before My Daughter Left for College

In summer of 2016, we spent numerous hours preparing for my daughter’s Freshman year at Ole Miss. We coordinated dorm room decor with her soon-to-be roommate and spent numerous hours (and dollars) ensuring our girl would be comfortable and ready for what was to come. We had visited the campus many times, mainly for cheer clinics and orientation, and felt we were totally prepared.

When the day arrived for us to move her into Martin, we transformed that standard, white shell of a room into the most adorable, cozy “home”; complete with coordinating EVERYthing (so very southern).

Meet the Rebs was the next day and we were so excited to see Peyton in her cheer uniform for the first time! The realization hit me while watching her pose with little rebel fans – we were just minutes away from saying our goodbyes and drive six hours home - without her. I hadn’t prepared myself for that moment and I felt alone, although I was surrounded by hundreds of people in that arena. My husband saw that I was getting upset, and encouraged me to quickly say my goodbyes. All I could think was, “Would she forget to call me? Would she get lost? Can she do laundry without a disaster?” (The answer was no and we quickly signed up for the laundry service.)

I quickly put on my sunglasses, kissed my daughter goodbye and cried the entire six-hour drive home, and many more hours after that.

The next few weeks were an adjustment (and I may or may not have binge watched Grey’s Anatomy…every episode, in the dark, with my dogs). However, back in Oxford, my daughter was thriving. She was busy with school and cheer, managing new friendships and relationships, becoming independent and I began to witness a metamorphosis. We actually became closer - and she had not forgotten me! She called and Face-Timed me daily and I treasured those moments.

The weekends we spent with her in Oxford were fun-filled, special and much-needed by this momma. She pledged a sorority and made friends that will likely be in her life forever. She was creating a life for herself, without my guidance. This was what we had prepared her for her entire life and it felt really good, as a parent, to experience. But, there were a few things I’d like to have been better prepared for – I’ve made a list for you soon-to-be POMs!

I wish I would have known:

1. Half of the “must have items” you purchase will end up stuffed under a dusty bed in the dorm, unused. You will discover these things on move out day and wonder how your child can still breathe. Don’t feel like you have to buy a ton of things before move-in weekend. There are plenty of stores (and a Wal-Mart) near campus so most of the basic needs can be purchased in Oxford!

2. Have an exit strategy. Unless you want to tell your baby “buh-bye” in a room full of people while trying to hold back tears, try to say your goodbyes in a private setting.

3. Oxford is a charming, wonderful town and the campus is beautiful. You will meet some of the nicest people there. Be open to exploring everything they have to offer – you won’t be disappointed!

4. You cannot control everything from afar, so have faith and trust that everything will be ok.

Your child will have a chance to learn, grow and become “adultish” and it is so amazing to watch. You might even go from parent to friend, if you are lucky.

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