A slight slice of optimism coupled with a little inspiration: That’s what our college students need right now. My heart goes out to all the kids who thought they would be starting on a new path in a new location with an entirely new group of people. I can’t imagine the dread of packing up a freshly decorated dorm room a week after it was set up. Dropping a child off at college is a poignant time, I can only imagine the dreadful ride home of trying to comfort a child as their school shuts down due to the pandemic.

Believing schools would shut down coupled with my sense that schools opening so early was an experiment, my son and I collectively and painfully agreed he would spend the fall semester of his junior year at Brown University safe in Connecticut. We would see how this fall semester flowed, and if all things glided along, he would get right back to living on campus in Providence.

Ever since he was 15, he had gone to boarding school and hadn’t lived at home, as he has been doing during the pandemic. While an incredible treat for me, this is not how he imagined his college years would be unfolding. I think being proactive made a difference. Two weeks later we were informed by Brown that the fall semester would be staggered, and all kids would start at home, remotely.

We actually felt ahead of the game as we didn’t have to wonder if we made the right decision or how to get our reimbursement for room and board. That little bit of control we exerted helped. Don’t get me wrong, the disappointment is there.

But I am proud of my son. He has accepted that this is simply the way it is. He does not dwell on this bad news or complain. In fact, if anything, he is cultivating new interests and goals. I’ve always taught my children the importance of perseverance and focus. I can’t think of a better time to practice those skills. How we process disappointments and difficulties makes all the difference. No situation remains the same, both good and bad.

This is a challenging time for parents as well. I was rounding the bend of having kids living at home. My daughter is entering her senior year of high school. I don’t know what next fall will bring. I find myself redecorating and buying more things rather than shedding my belongings to prepare for an empty next.

My house is full and may stay that way a lot longer than I anticipated. I embrace this, however, I do not wish it for my children. I want them to fly, to soar, and to live their lives making all their grand dreams a reality. After 15 years of single parenting, I too have new dreams that I would like to pursue. I would like to soar as well and yet we are rooted in our home.

Our homes are a place of warmth, love and safety. It is a place where we provide fuel for the soul, self-confidence and endurance. This is indeed not our final destination, only a part of our journey. It is a part in which tremendous growth, maturity and connectedness have occurred. As a parent watching this, I am in awe and gratitude. Character is built during challenging times and disappointments. I have faith in the bright futures of both of my children. They are my very best contribution to this world.

In addition, I have created a Facebook page for parents who are in the same position, having college kids at home unexpectedly. Please join us if you have an interest at Grown and Supposed to Be Flown. It is a wonderful group of like-minded people who are navigating these unexpected times. No political banter is allowed, so it is a particularly enjoyable space.

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