5 (Mostly) Unanswered Texts to My College Kid

by Deborah Copaken
Originally Published: 
teen daughter
wavebreakmedia / iStock

Motherhood is a blur.

The baby is born, there’s a lot of pain, blood, and breast-feeding, not a lot of sleep, followed by suicide watch for about two years—the kid’s, not yours—as he walks, then runs, then plummets off the couch in the blink of an eye. Then the shuttling years begin, back and forth from school, back and forth from guitar lessons and playdates and sleepovers, a million times, seriously, maybe more, who can count, we’re so frigging tired. And oh the meals to be made, so many meals! There are only so many ways to make chicken exciting on a school night, I’m sorry, kid, yes we’re having broccoli again, what’s it to you?

Then there are all those birthday parties and field trips and the inevitable tears over feeling left out during one or the other that need immediate wiping plus a giant cup of hot chocolate, but wait, oh my God, we’re out of marshmallows, let me go put on my snow boots and crucifix and go get them! Then the 4-H club begins—no, not that one, the other one: hormones, heartbreak, homework, and hair products—and then he’s forgetting to tell you he’s at that party, and you find the rolling papers in the drawer, and you try to have the condom talk but he’s like, oh my God, please, Mom, stop, seriously, chill, I get it, and you’re staying up late waiting for him to come home from the party, alive, please God, I’ll do anything if you just let him come home ALIVE, and then, bada-bing, bada-boom! He’s off to college.

And then: crickets.

Fucking crickets!

Months will go by, and you will not hear a single peep from your college-age child. That child whom you breast-fed and shuttled and held while he was crying. You are chopped liver now, an embarrassment, some anthropological relic from his crazy past—oh, yeah, that lady, don’t mind her, she’s my mother, she’s like stuck in the ’70s or something, seriously, you should see her Spotify playlist, it has Neil Diamond on it.

And if you text, I promise, he will be way too busy having fun to text back.

Last night, after winning his Oscar, J.K. Simmons used a hefty chunk of his allotted speech time to tell the good people of Planet Earth to call their moms: “Everybody—I’m told there’s like a billion people or so—call your mom, call your dad. If you are lucky enough to have a parent or two alive on this planet, call them. Don’t text, don’t e-mail. Call them on the phone. Tell them you love them and thank them and will be to them for as long as they want to talk to you.” I was tempted to leave this quote, without further comment, on my college sophomore’s Facebook wall.

Lucky for him, I resisted.

In all fairness, I was just visiting the kid last weekend to see him in a play, because I just love visiting Chicago on a polar vortex weekend in February, and from the moment I arrived until the moment I left, he was busy. I mean, he had a paper to write, then he had a play to perform, then he had a cappella practice until well after midnight, then he had to take his sister to a frat party, and somewhere in there he was supposed to sleep, but I seriously doubt it.

Midnight a cappella rehearsal

Just to make all of you feel better, especially those of you with both college-age children and long stacks of unanswered blue text bubbles, I’m going to humiliate myself here for a moment and show you five screenshots of texts I sent to my son during his first year of college.

Wait until he has his first baby and he’s sending me all those frantic “Oh my God, Mom, the baby is yellow!” or “How do I get her to stop crying?” or “Help! Come here right now and save me!” messages.

Yeah, you’re right. I’ll totally text him back.

1. When I was away for a few days.
2. When I hadn’t heard from him for two weeks.
3. Later that same day. Then two days after that. Then three days after that.
4. On his birthday. (I’d also tried calling.)
5. During finals.

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