My living room is no longer my own.
One part of it looks like the typical living room in the typical house: a couch, a few end tables and a television. Go behind the couch, however, and you uncover madness.
That is what we call “College Corner.”
My oldest daughter is going away to college for the first time this fall. She’s not the first child to ever go away and won’t be the last. She is mine, however, and we have been planning this with all the precision and high-level communications of a military operation.
I blame the Internet. Since last summer, when we started visiting campuses, I would find college packing lists on my Facebook page and on a few college parent discussion boards I frequent. It fed into my obsession about what to bring, how to bring it and why.
Back in my day ……
My own college packing, a million years ago, was quite simple. I shopped in my mom’s basement for most of my linens. My hot pink rug was, believe it or not, the rug my sister used in her room before I was born. The mini-fridge had gone to Cornell University and Ithaca College before it made the trip to Syracuse University.
That mini-fridge, along with my mother, sister and I, drove Interstate 81 north in a Chevrolet Citation with room to spare. My mother was a master packer and fit everything I needed into the Citation’s trunk.
It’s not so simple now. The mini-fridge is, thankfully, provided by her school. But now it’s not enough to have hand-me-down sheets and posters from home. The mattresses are usually an odd size so special sheets need to be purchased. Laptops have replaced typewriters, but now you need cables and carrying bags, too.
It’s in the execution
It’s not only what you bring, but how you bring it. Would a suitcase or a duffel bag work better for clothes? Do you want a set of plastic drawers under that lofted bed? Are the IKEA FRAKTA bags (they are a thing, trust me) what we’ve been looking for?
I’ll admit, most of the mental gymnastics have been my own. I am the one with the packing list. I am the person who, at 5am, is buying shoe caddies and laundry pods at the store. I am the stalker studying pictures of her future dorm room and re-playing youtube videos to see what kids bring and where they put it all.
Phase two, commence
The shopping is different from the organizing and the packing. We are in phase two of the invasion plan, making sure everything is checked off the list. The motto is “light, little and less.” Everything will come out of its packaging and get squirreled away within the bins and bags.
There is the possibility we will forget something, but we have a Plan B. Across the street from her dorm, literally, there is a three-story Target. Within 15 minutes are family friends who are eager to help. And there is always overnight shipping for just about anything.
She will be ready. Her stuff will be ready. Will I be ready? Of course not. That, however, is the real phase two of parenting: Letting go. And there is no battle plan for that.