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May CPR Newsletter: Graduation Tears And Fears

Hello Fellow Parent, and Welcome!

Full disclosure: I’m a cryer.

My eyes well up and my throat constricts when I see anyone wearing a wedding dress (even on TV). It’s over for me when I hear Pomp and Circumstance, so you can only imagine the waterworks this past week during (and after and a little bit before) the college commencement ceremonies of BOTH of my children you read about in College Admissions Cracked—undergraduate for my son, graduate school for my daughter.

I am in shock that it all happened so fast—from swaddling their tiny bodies like burritos in those striped hospital blankets to witnessing the tassel on their mortarboards move from right to left. Like you, I felt all the nerves and hopes for my children as they journeyed through the college admission rite-of-passage. Then I worried when I dropped them off at college without the protection of my watchful eye. In retrospect, all that energy I expended on anxiety and worry was about me, not them, and it didn’t help either of us.

What I really want to share with you is that stuff that any parent would worry about actually happened to my kids while at college.

My son concussed himself from a fall off an electric skateboard (despite the helmet he was wearing, and yes, he sold the dreadful gizmo shortly thereafter). He found medical help on his own before I (two time zones away from him) knew anything about it. Water poured in through the ceiling of my daughter’s off-campus apartment due to an overflowing toilet in the apartment upstairs. She had already summoned the superintendent and purchased a new mattress when she called (from her temporary bed, the unscathed living room couch) to relay the details to me. They both have shared that knowing I was there for them, always and forever as back-up, helped them in myriad ways, but my worrying did not. For events like those my kids suffered—that feel worrisome but are not life-or-death—our anxiety as parents can create the impulse to jump into crisis mode, which can hold our kids back from taking the necessary steps toward success as adults. Truth.

I know many students have suffered much worse, and during the college admissions process pressure mounts. That’s a huge part of why I’m launching a new online platform (called Intrepid Applicant!) soon to make getting my help on your child’s college personal essay easy, entertaining, efficient, and affordable. I hope it will alleviate at least a bit of the stress for both of you.

Full disclosure: I will always worry about my kids.

I’m a work-in-progress (aren’t we all?). I’m working on spending less time disasterizing about all that could go wrong for my children and more time celebrating their successes. Case in point: their graduations from one stage of their lives to the next over this past week. Of course, I find new things to worry about to fill the void. Are those carpenter ants or just regular ants in the bathroom? Will the bunny chew through my clematis vine before it blooms again this year? Is that pain in my shoulder worth a doctor’s visit, or will it go away on its own? You know the drill.

But my kids? They are independent, capable young adults, despite and I’d like to think in some ways because of my parenting. And college admissions? A tiny blip in the arc of their life—and mine. My children are graduates now.

A couple of post-graduation(s) lessons I’ve learned:

  1. If you’re a cryer like me, let your mascara run (without worry of what you’ll look like in the commemorative photos).
  2. Hug your kid today and practice letting go of your anxiety about their future. You’ll have moments of anxiety anyway (no shame!), but no matter how much you worry, their lives will happen just the same, and so will yours

Warmly,

Jill

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