Revisiting Junior Parents Weekend

Today marks the beginning of Junior Parents Weekend at the University of Notre Dame.

That three-day period when parents and their students come together with other parents and students for various activities, to meet the professors, visit campus, and affirm that their hard-earned dollars are being put to good use.

But I’m missing it.

My Favorite Domer turned thumbs-down on this event a long time ago. He’s too busy for such orchestrated activities, he said. His friends’ parents aren’t coming. He didn’t want me to spend money for tickets and clothing and transportation and lodging — when I’m already on campus monthly.

‘Are you sure?’ I wondered.

Yes, he said. It’s not like we’ll have quality time together, with all the planned activities. And you know how hard those large-group gatherings are.

I certainly do.

Some folks excel in a cocktail party setting. They mix and mingle, kiss everybody within grabbing distance, and make small talk like they’ve known those people forever.

I’ve never been like that.

‘Shy’ would have described me as a kid. Or ‘Wallflower.’

Today, I prefer ‘Introverted.’

Nothing wrong with that. Introverts (and many writers fall into that category) choose our companions and friends after they’ve been tested and found true.

When the invitation came in the mail, I assumed we’d go. Despite the certain cold weather, the itchy new clothing, and the uncomfortable socializing.

I never expected Domer wouldn’t want to attend.

The schedule of events was full, to say the least:

  • An Opening Gala, complete with music, dancing, and fancy food.
  • Hall Luncheon to meet my son’s friends and see his quad in its “natural” state.
  • Saturday Mass at the Joyce Center (nobody does Mass the way ND does Mass!)
  • President’s Dinner.
  • Closing Brunch on Sunday, with tearful good-byes all around.

‘Are you certain?’ I kept asking.

His reply continued in the affirmative.

Some parents would have signed up and coerced their kid to tag along. Not me.

ND is his school, his home. Right or wrong, the decision on attending these festivities would be his.

And he said No.

A big part of me is sad. Sad at not seeing him this weekend. Sad at not being on campus, even at this dismal time of year. Sad at not being part of the students’ enthusiasm, their intelligence, their wit.

You see, I love ND as much as is possible for someone who didn’t go there!

But growing up means assuming responsibility for our choices. The world (and our own family) might not approve. But we each must listen to that quiet, inner Voice which leads us in the direction that’s right for us.

Sometimes we call that Voice, ‘conscience.’ Other times, it’s ‘compass.’

Domer is blessed with a strong one, and I couldn’t be prouder.

23 thoughts on “Revisiting Junior Parents Weekend

  1. Sometimes the hardest part of loving someone, especially a child, is to give them the space they need. Domer is lucky to have a mom who loves him so much.

    I hope something fun and comforting comes along to help you through the weekend.

    • Well, I went shopping on Friday and had lunch out; that was fun. But looking at all those fancy dresses only reminded me I wouldn’t be wearing one this weekend, so that wasn’t! Thanks for your kind words, though — I love it when friends help cheer me up!

  2. Wow, Deb, this is a bittersweet moment when you realize Domer is finding his way in the world by asserting his independence. It surely is a milestone and a reflection of the solid roots you have given him which enable him to take flight with his new wings. So in the end, it really is as it should be as we hope our bables will be able fly on their own. But darn, I felt a little lump in my throat remembering when my little ones left the nest. You are handling it all so fine.



    • Thanks for empathizing, Kathy! Yes, it’s hard — really hard — when they start flying solo, but we have to let ’em try. He’s lucky, though. He knows where I am and that, if he needs me, I’ll be there. Hugs back, my friend!

  3. At my daughter’s school they just call it “Parent’s Weekend.” I went her first year and that it. Once was enough. I don’t consider myself an introvert, though I was rather shy as a child. I do consider myself a loner and feel awkward at parties. I’d rather be alone and writing. Is that so bad? It’s a good thing wanting not to be in crowds, especially when you’re a writer and being alone is the nature of the biz.

    • Thanks for understanding! I do like my “me time,” and I find it challenging to part with that, especially when I have so little of it! Of course, I’d have sacrificed it gladly for my son, but, wise person that he is, he realized how little “me time” he’d have and wasn’t willing to part with that (not to mention that mid-terms are this coming week, too!)

  4. Sounds like you made a wise choice–especially when you mentioned itchy clothing. I think one of the hardest things about being a parent is following and not leading when it’s appropriate. Sounds like you raised a son who speaks honestly and directly to you…Good Job! Hope you treat yourself to something special this weekend!

    • Shucks, you make me blush! Yes, he is rather out-spoken and honest to a fault (the acorn doesn’t fall too far from the tree, I guess). It definitely is hard not following the crowd — especially when that meant getting to see my son! — but it won’t be long before he’s home again anyway, whether for spring break or Easter holiday!

  5. From one wallflower to another…you’ll spend more quality time with your son on other weekends. Interestingly I have a cousin who has a daughter who is also (I think) a junior at ND.

    • Really?? Did you cousin attend Junior Parents’ Weekend? At least they had decent weather for it, not all the ice and snow which normally makes its appearance at this time of year. Who knew I’d have company hanging onto the wall??!

  6. Debbie, when a mother realizes she has raised an assertive, independent, and capable young man like Dommer seems to be, she can take off her mom hat and toast with a glass of wine to a job well done! Good for Dommer and good for you for respecting his wishes. So many mothers would have “guilted,” coerced, and pressured their children to join the festivities yet at the end of the day, something tells me both parties would be miserable. If anything, life has taught me that when our children reach a certain age, decisions like these are best left for them to make. All we can do is sit back and enjoy a moment of pride when we realize we’ve raised determined capable men! 🙂

    • Bella, your comment brings tears to my eyes, Lady! If I’ve done nothing right in my entire life but raise my son to have roots and wings, I’ll have considered myself a success. Yes, he would have been pretty miserable having to attend these festivities when he knew he had mid-term exams coming up the next week. It’s not easy letting them make this kind of decision, but I’m glad I did. Making decisions gives us confidence. Now where’s that glass of wine?!!

  7. Good for you for not guilting him into going, but instead, accepting his ‘no’. Me? I’d be so relieved at not having to go! My stomach knotted up a little just reading about it 🙂 My automatic response to “party” is “no thank you”…I don’t know if that will ever change.

    Since this weekend wasn’t a ‘go’, you’ll just have to schedule another weekend soon to spend time with him. That would be so much better anyway (as you noted, you’d not have much time together anyway)!

    • Yes, a big part of me was relieved at not having to attend these functions (but I’d have sure liked spending time with my son!). He told me last night on the phone that he thinks he made the right decision — his number one description of the event was “awkward.” That about sums it up! Thanks for your comments, Janna.

  8. —Dear, Debbie,
    All of these little steps, losses, & letting go of of our children is incredibly difficult.
    —-remember training wheels & then the real bike!? And driver’s training? Girlfriends?

    All of these “little deaths” ( as one desribed it to my years ago ) is Darn Hard, but I can see you are filled w/ wisdom.

    ~~Sometimes we call that Voice, ‘conscience.’ Other times, it’s ‘compass.’~~~

    Love that line. Peace. Love. Xxx

    • Thanks, Kim. I love to draw on the wisdom of those who have “been there, done that” with their kids! Letting go is one of the harder things we moms have to do, but we have to do it if our kids are to spread their wings and fly!

  9. My kids never liked us being involved when they hit college….guess they might have gotten overload throughout the school years. It’s hard but we all survived.

    • I didn’t want my folks involved when I was in college, either! We didn’t have a parents’ weekend back then, and I don’t remember lots of parents ever being around much. Today’s parents are more inclined to hover over their kids. My son doesn’t want hovering, so I refrain!

  10. Deb – it’s the kid/wings/fly thing all over again! When you get a chance, head over to my spot and look under “Who? Me?” – you’ve got a little prize 🙂

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