From Mary Dell at Grown and Flown: Empty Nest Parenting:
All summer college freshman and their moms flock to stores for dorm room shopping. Mothers look overwhelmed, aware of the finality of this back-to-school excursion. But is there another reason we moms share a universal look in our eyes? Do we time-travel back 18 years, when we prepared the first tiny rooms for these same children? Once again we are gripped by nesting instincts as we experience 4 1/2 ways nursery and dorm room shopping are alike.
Consider the similarities:
Nursery: crib sheets College: x-long twin sheets
Nursery: baby wipes College: Clorox wipes
Nursery: Diaper Genie College: laundry baskets
Nursery: baby monitor College: pc with Skype
Nursery: bumper pads College: if only…
Distinguishing between true essentials and all the rest comes only once the baby is home from the hospital or a few weeks after your child begins classes. Irresistible on the shelf, some sweet possessions remain in their boxes in the tidy baby’s room. Likewise, stand back when your college freshman retrieves whatever may be stashed under a bed, grimy and covered with lint, yet unused, in May.
While white-knuckling shopping carts, we become fixated with the hunt for a perfect “something” for our child, be it a crib mobile or a coffee maker. When it was my turn to help our son prepare for freshman year, I studied the Campus & Beyond Checklist at Bed, Bath and Beyond, imagining a dorm room with him and all of his college provisions neatly unpacked and ready to be deployed.
Likewise, as a soon to be new mom, I turned to nursery checklists, fretting about what we might really need. Not knowing the sex of the baby eliminated the obvious pink or blue choices for the linens, compounding my confusion. After much hunting through pastel and primary designs, I found them: crisp white crib sheets, with floating red, white and blue letters and delicate illustrations. The baby could begin literacy training from day one!
In my parallel, separated-by-18-years universe, I took aim at the oh-so-important comforter selection. Attempts at discussing this signature piece of dorm decor with my son resulted in a shrug and “just pick whatever you like, Mom.”
A few weeks later, my husband, daughter and I helped him move into his new college abode. Eventually it was time for final hugs and goodbyes.
I wonder what he thought when he spied the stow-away I hid among the stacks of new clothes. Nestled inside was a small, light blue stuffed rabbit, one that resembled his favorite toy as a baby, wearing a scarf fashioned out of a corner of the alphabet crib linens. I tucked the bunny in with the boxers and indulged my need for a final gesture of motherly sentimentality and a deep wish that the little rabbit might remind our son of home.
Please visit www.grownandflown.com for more writing on parenting, with a special emphasis on children in high school and college.