Tribe

Congratulations, you’ve done it!!  You have worked tirelessly to raise a child self-sufficient enough to live outside the safe haven you provided for 18 years and join their peers in the cesspool of dormitory life. While every parents’ journey to this point differs, only YOU know the road you personally traversed to arrive here, and it wasn’t always pretty. Parent, you deserve to be celebrated, but–and I think you know this already–you won’t be. Instead, as usual, you will be judged.

Raising kids is an unpredictable course for which no one is prepared. The only thing you can count on is that some other equally incompetent parent will judge your performance–usually to your disadvantage. Criticized, judged, chastised, rebuked. On the rare occasion someone admires your work, you will dismiss their praise and judge them a fool. It’s a lose-lose situation.

Until now.

There is a place for you that has never existed in the real world. Here you will find a group of like-minded peers who know what it is to find themselves with no relevant experience or training, face down in the dirt again and again, while an arena full of spectators boos and hisses. They, like you, were too strict or too permissive, too involved or not involved enough, micromanaging or derelict, with standards too high or too low, too much or too little, too this or too that. If, for a second, the critics were satisfied, you second-guessed yourself.

These people know. They see you. They are YOUR people. They have always been there, but like you, have tried to blend in, ashamed of their inadequacies and excesses. The difference is that now you can find them, self-selected into your child’s college parent Facebook chat.

Whether you were dubbed a “Helicopter Parent”, hovering, ready to swoop in and rescue your child, or a “Drone Parent”, sending reconnaissance in the form of a spouse or online parental controls, whether you fed your kid too much junk food or you were too restrictive–you will appear moderate compared to these people. These are the people who put the capital ‘N’ in Neurotic. You delight in recounting their craziness to your child, making you, for the first time, seem relatively sane. You have not felt this good about yourself since you entered Labor & Delivery.

This legion of parents have their kid’s university portal password. They know who teaches their kid’s humanities class and who their freshman advisor is. They not only worry that their kid will fall out of a lofted bed, they have already prevented their demise by commandeering their child’s housing app and requesting bed rails on their behalf. Each and every instance of their neuroticism will feel like manna from Heaven raining down upon you, nourishing you after a long drought. You are no longer “too” much of anything–too “extra”. You’re middling, mediocre, not even in the top quartile among them. Not only does no one judge you for the 15 billable hours you’ve diverted into online searches for your child’s bedding, they will throw you a life preserver–a link to every single layer of bedding, including the shelf liner you so the mattress topper doesn’t slide around. They post questions that would embarrass the average parent, and make requests that are completely unreasonable by normative standards. You wait for the judgment from the chorus, but it doesn’t come. In fact, the “Helicopter Parents” swoop in and deliver–answers, information, advice, links, and even on-the-ground assistance.

The crazier the parents are, the more affection you feel for them. You want to kiss every single one of them on their furrowed brow and tell them, “You are not ‘too’ much for me. You are just right the way you are.”

You have found your people.

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