It was like déjà vu all over again. Only this time, I was a little surprised at myself. Was I really on the phone with a university official, pleading for cooperation and actually nearly crying (all without my daughter with diabetes even knowing?)
Hadn’t we moved on? Aren’t we the masters of the diabetes world? Last week threw me for a loop, and reminded me that forever, until a cure, I’ll be my daughter’s protector, sometimes perhaps to a fault.
The situation went down like this: As she has every year, my daughter had put in her bid for university housing, this time for her senior year (omg!) which will commence next fall. This past year she’d lived in an on-campus apartment — brand spanking new –with some great friends who not only messed well as roommates, but who understood her diabetes and knew how to help her when low or high and why to be careful about what was in the fridge. Their plan was to get an on-campus apartment again and finish out their college time together.
Nice for me, the mom. After the freshman roommate from double toothpicks, I learned to appreciate that Lauren had found friends who got it to surround herself with.
Secretly, I was thrilled that her campus had so much housing and told us, when she accepted, she most likely would be able to stay on campus all four years. Selfishly (and non-diabetes wise), it’s easier for me. One check written and a year of housing (and meals) are taken care of. No leases, no landlords, no worries.
The D-mom in me, while I know my daughter has never needed them and probably never will, loves the idea of the RA’s on the floors, the easy access to the on-campus health center (she actually has needed that) and the fact that the place is run by university officials. It’s made me feel, well, completely comfortable with her being 500 miles away.
Then came last week. And the email: We regret to inform you that we are not able to secure housing for you this coming year.”
And …. I lost it.
Okay, so I know, I know. The time is coming near when Lauren will take the next step in her life and live in an apartment somewhere. She might live with a roommate, she might live alone. But no matter what, she’ll be living not with me and not with college oversight. Recently, I’d even reached out to some diabetes friends who lived alone, to pick their brains But it still felt so far away.
So for whatever silly reason, the thought of her moving into an off-campus rented apartment our house completely freaked me out.
And I did exactly the opposite of what I preach: I let diabetes rule the situation.
I dialed up the housing office and ripped through the person who answered the phone, their supervisor and then their supervisor. I explained that Type 1 made it a special situation, and that I really needed to have Lauren stay on campus. I begged. I cajoled. And finally, the supervisor’s supervisor said she’d make sure Lauren did get on campus. But not with her friends. And not in the housing she might want. I thanked her and hung up.
And then realized, almost immediately, the error of my ways.
If you’ve read this blog for a while (then thanks!), you know my mantra is simple: Don’t let diabetes dictate life. Ask yourself, in ANY situation: what would my decision/reaction/response be if I removed diabetes from the equation? I say it all the time. I’ve tried to do it for 16 years. And this day, I completely fell flat.
Because the reality is, if I remove diabetes from the equation, I would not have been freaking out on the phone.
Sure, I might have been annoyed. My older daughter lived on campus all four years of college and I wanted Lauren to as well. They’d told us she’d have housing. But would I worry about her safety and security? Probably not.
So it was time for me to sit down and lecture myself. Like this:
Do not let diabetes rule her life. Do not make decisions based on diabetes first and life in general second. Remember all the times you’ve been able to work things out and even if you were nervous as a parent, they all worked out. Embrace that she is a wonderful young adult who is responsible and knows the deal. Just do it.
And so I am. Life is going to keep throwing new things at her, and I’m never going to stop being her mom. But just like I did the first time she wanted to go to a sleepover, and the first time she wanted to go on a trip far away without me or a medical person, and the first time she wanted to drive a car, and when she wanted to go away to college, I must offer my input and support and help her come up with a plan.
But never, ever, should I say diabetes is the reason she cannot do something or must not do something. Living off campus and yes, possibly living alone when she graduates, is a part of her life.
I can care and support and help and advice. But I cannot protect her from everything. Nor should I. For her to continue to develop and thrive as a whole person, I need to let her step out of my comfort zone.
So while I freaked out and reacted wrong, I’m back to thinking right. Man: this parenting thing. It’s so forever.