Words & Banter

This Past Month – We Both Grew Up

Photo taken by Red

I registered for Parent & Family Weekend even before my daughter left for her freshman year at college. Yes, I'm that parent, although I'll claim it's because I'm so organized. Yes, I started missing her even before she left (if that's possible). And yet it seemed like only yesterday, not a month ago, that we said good-bye and I became an empty nester.

Of course, being the straight-A student (some things you never outgrow), I studied the weekend's schedule of events and not just knew when, but where, each was taking place. And I couldn't help but notice there were several blocks of "downtime". Obviously, the school already knew what I was about to find out. Sometimes it's what's not on the schedule that really matters.


It was walking together to Kroger to get her "essentials" (Campbell's soup, Banquet chicken pot pies, and Cotton Candy grapes, although, much to my surprise, no ramen) and telling me about her idea to apply for an internship because classes are great, but she also wants real-life experience. It was not being able to decide where she wanted to go for dinner and instead ending up in her dorm room, her on her bed and me on the throw pillows on the floor, eating not Domino's pizza (although it was considered) but delivery from Noodles & Company and watching Survivor.

A few hours later, it was her walking me across the incredibly beautiful campus of Belmont University filled with majestic buildings, to the "circle" where everyone picks up their Uber, telling me that she's going to meet up with friends. Which made sense as I've heard so much about the people she's met and the many friends she's made, even meeting some of them. And it was the weekend after all.

But then she said something that totally caught me by surprise. Later she was going to study for several hours as that's her nightly routine (often starting after midnight). And, unlike me, who primarily focused on getting good grades, she explained that she loves her classes and truly wants to learn the material. Not for the test. Not for the grade. But to have the knowledge for when she graduates.

And on the Uber ride back to the hotel, I realized,

Parents Weekend is all about reassurance. Reassurance that she's happy and confident, and becoming the person that every parent hopes and dreams their child will become. It was my daughter, through her unprompted words and actions, during the "downtime" of Parent & Family Weekend, that brought me smiles and laughter. And without even knowing it, she reassured me that she was in the right place – literally and figuratively.
Photo by OnTheRunPhoto for iStock


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I keep getting emails about where to go for mocktails. I know alcohol-free cocktails, like Virgin Margaritas, have been around for a while, but I’d never heard that term before. Do you think it has to do with New Year’s resolutions?


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It can if any of your resolutions are to lose weight, save money, sleep better. Or, drink less. Psychologically, January is the month when we “reset”, so a UK-based organization, Alcohol Change UK, started Dry January, where you abstain from drinking alcohol.


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Perfect timing since many people shop, eat, and drink more than usual over the holidays.


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I know you used to drink a glass of Cold Duck on New Year’s Eve, a tradition going back to our childhood, but that hardly counts as drinking. But, I have always wondered why you rarely drink, but never asked.
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Photo by bhofack2 for iStock

Popcorn! Quite simply, it’s one of my absolute favorite things. Starting when I was a child, whenever I went to the movies, I’d get (and finish!) the largest bucket of popcorn available. And I always thought movie popcorn was far superior to what you could make at home … until a recent trip to visit a close friend in Tennessee, and she introduced me to Great Northern Popcorn (I promise this isn’t a paid ad). Now I’m addicted to it as I can make it on my cooktop. I know Black would be more interested in the science of what makes popcorn pop, but I prefer to just be obsessive about my popcorn …

Popcorn. Just the thought of popcorn makes me smile, makes me want to indulge, makes me happy. And I’m guessing my popcorn obsession makes Black roll her eyes (although she might admit it can be a healthy snack). However, plenty of people must love popcorn as much as I do. Why else would there be a National Popcorn Day?!

Over the past few years, the pandemic posed challenges that none of us could’ve foreseen (and I’ll never forget the dedication of the front-line workers or make light of the sacrifices so many had to make). But part of me has to laugh at the irony because it ended my seemingly easy “escape” from the stresses of life – going to the movies and enjoying the largest bucket of popcorn – when I needed it the most.

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Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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You’re going to roll your eyes, but lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about myself.


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That is totally out of character, unless you are thinking of New Year’s resolutions.


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Actually, no. For decades, my priorities, and therefore my life, have always been focused on the girls and Mom. But that’s all changing. And I’m not sure how to “change” with it.
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