How Does a Protective Mom Survive Sending Her Baby to College

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If you’ve been around me for more than a minute this past year, you know that I sent my oldest “baby” off to her first year of college.  And I sent her more than 10 hours away.  I never once worried about how she would do (at least that’s what I tell her and myself), but I worried quite a bit about how well I would do with her gone.  For all of my baby’s life (and even before her life began), my single focus was to love and protect her.  So, how in the world does a protective mom survive sending her baby off to college?!

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My husband and I talked about our dreams for our children before we got married.  We started planning and saving for our children’s college 5 years before my oldest baby was born.  We also made sure that we each had enough life insurance to cover every foreseeable situation.  Planning, preparation and protection is how I show my love.

My friends have called me “safety Susan” since my baby was born almost 20 years ago.  As a parent educator, I am well aware of the bazillion pitfalls of parenthood.  I did everything in my power to protect and nurture my baby, starting months before she was even conceived.  It was one thing to drink caffeine and eat junk food when it only impacted my body, but when it could impact my baby I was no longer tempted.  When I was about 3 months pregnant, I pulled a muscle in my back.  I could only sit upright in a recliner and not shift my weight or move.  My obstetrician suggested he could prescribe a pain reliever with codeine and it wouldn’t harm my baby.  I considered it for about .25 seconds.  I couldn’t risk it.  I chose to sit in that recliner, deep breathing  (biting a bullet) and trying to think happy, calm thoughts for 5 days until I could move again.

How Does a Protective Mom Survive Sending Her Baby to College - Organized 31 #LoveAndProtect #Ad

Once my baby was born, I made sure that she was properly buckled into the correct infant car seat for her ride home (of course).  I nursed her for 14 months (it would have been 12 months, but we were in the middle of moving to Japan – not the best time to wean my baby).  I made sure that I did everything I could to nurture her and keep her safe.  Soon my friends were calling me, “safety Susan” and my baby, “Safety S.”

I figured there are so many things that are out of my hands – things that I can’t control. So I made sure that I took care of everything that I could control.  The things that are out of my control, I pray about.  The things I can do to protect my baby, I do.  Always. 

How Does a Protective Mom Survive Sending Her Baby to College - Organized 31 #LoveAndProtect #Ad

Then about 2 months after she was born, somehow I was sending my baby off to college.  (When parents tell you to treasure every moment, because it all goes by so quickly, believe them!)  Because I am safety Susan, I did everything in my control to plan ahead, prepare and protect my baby.  We spent weeks figuring out the complicated process of using health insurance in another state (wha-at?!  my baby might have to use health insurance without me?).  I planned ahead and packed a compete first aid kit for my baby to take to college with her. Oh, what a protective mama I am. 

My husband’s work schedule prevented him from taking my baby to college.  That meant that I had to not only rip my heart out, but I had to drive away leaving it in another state all by itself.  I’d spent almost 20 years loving and protecting my baby.  Suddenly, I was expected to drive her 10 hours away from home, lock her in a very small room in a very old building, with 3 people we don’t even know and then leave the state, leaving my baby alone.  Sheer craziness.  Sheer panic (and lots of hidden tears) for this protective mama. 

My baby thrived and I survived.  Thank goodness for video chats, texting and lots of prayer. 

Then my baby called me one morning in Novemember trying not to cry. She was sick and wanted her mama advice about what to do.  I had to be a calm mama and help my sick baby from hundreds of miles away (all while not letting her know that I was crying just a bit).   She had the flu and was so ill that she didn’t leave her room for 5 days.  Somehow I survived and she did, too.

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Thankfully, I was able to go visit her (thanks to my dear friend, M., for dragging me on a roadtrip to see my baby) in her new habitat.  It was exactly what we both needed.

My baby came home for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I couldn’t be prouder of her.  She has grown into a wonderful woman; a woman that I admire and thoroughly enjoy being with.  Then I had to send her far, far away again (it hasn’t gotten easier with practice). 

Last week my baby gave this protective mama the best gift ever – peace of mind. As winter storm Juno headed towards the Northeast, my baby texted me 2 days before the storm was expected to hit.  She told me all she’d done to prepare for the storm. (Can you hear the tension easing out of my body after months of worry?)  Then she asked if there was anything else she should do. This protective mama will always worry and will always love and protect her, but I now know with certainty that she will be okay. More than okay, she will soar!

Now that my baby is taking over the planning and preparation role, I will be sharing more information with her.  Information that she can use to make her own choices and take her own action.  She needs to learn more about disaster preparedness, more about health insurance, more about how to protect herself and her assets.  The Protective Learning Center is a great place for her to start gathering the information she needs to make her own decisions about life insurance, money management, retirement planning and even college planning for her future children (and my future grandbabies!).

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I’ll always be one protective mama, no matter how old my baby is, but now I know that a protective mom can survive sending her baby to college. I think this is the perfect time to call my mom and tell her thank you and I love her.  Who do you need to call to say, “I love you” to?

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29 Comments

  1. Hi Susan – How absolutely sweet and I was a little teary-eyed reading your story. I only saw a little glimpse of the last couple of years as you sent your baby off to college and you have raised a truly wonderful young lady. You are so right, the years fly by! Hugs, Holly

  2. Oh I love this! You be all the safety you want! I can not even imagine sending my kids off to college but I will not make sure they are properly protected since a mom who knows reminded me! Thank you! #client

  3. Aww. It is hard. I remember when and it was some long talks on the phone that got me through those first weeks.

  4. Great post! I have quite a few years before my babies go to college, but I am not looking forward to it! Hopefully I will survive like you!

  5. Aww I loved reading your story! I am also a protective Mama and I am not looking forward to those days at all but I know I’ll make it through them somehow, at least I hope! šŸ™‚

  6. It’s such a balancing act when it comes to our children. We want to support them and watch them chase their dreams, but letting go is so hard. I have a kiddo who isn’t very far away from making the college decision and I’ve already told him wherever he goes I’ll probably follow. Kidding. (Kind of.)

    1. I think that’s what my daughter was (half) afraid of. I tease her that was the reason she chose a college so far away.

  7. I remember my Father came with me to my College Orientation .. He was 1 in 5 Fathers in the entire room. Sometimes its hard for Parents to let go

    1. It’s hard because, of course, you want them to grow up and go off on their own, it’s just that it comes too soon.

  8. Right-o about the caffeine, eating right, etc. Right from the get-go our lives change, for the better. And a big hurrah for it. šŸ™‚ I’ve got two who are grown, and I miss them home still, but there’s still something to appreciate at every age (even when they’ve grown up and gone to college). šŸ™‚

  9. Both of our kids went to college on the other side of the country and nothing has been harder than letting them go. Even though it was totally the right thing, it still makes me teary.

  10. My babies are still babies (I have a 6 week old and a 3-year-old) so I have a long ways before college days but even so, I have a hard time thinking about it becasue I know the time will come to send them off before I know it!

  11. Your post couldn’t have come at a better time. Wednesday, My 21 year old college senior had a 5:30 a.m. flight out of Baltimore to Indianapolis for an interview. She did this all by herself and we both survived. It was the longest day but she was “prepared”. If she gets this job she will be traveling around the country for a year. I can’t even imagine. My daughter had to leave her dorm at 3:00 a.m. I was up from 2:00 a.m. on. Will that year be the longest sleepless year of my life? Raising a baby is nothing compared to letting your baby spread their wings. I tell my next door neighbor who has 2 very small children…don’t put them down. Something happens and they grow up and out. God Bless you and your baby.

    1. Margie, it’ so good to connect with other mamas going through the same thing. You’re proud of your “baby” and want to cheer her on, but wish that the sitting on your lap time had lasted a bit longer. Sending you and your daughter lots of good wishes.

  12. My son is leaving for college in the Fall and I am a nervous wreck. I’m thrilled for him but also heartbroken that I won’t be seeing him everyday. Thank you for sharing your insights from this past year. It’s a beacon of light for me to remain hopeful that I’ll get through it without having a breakdown!

    1. Debi, I still don’t know how I did it, but I did and you will, too! Be sure to have a good friend on-call for support.

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