My boyfriend and I have been dating since 10th grade. We just started college a few weeks ago and are going to different schools. We are about 4 hours away by car so we can see each other on some weekends. Other than that, how can we keep this relationship alive? I know it’s going to be hard but hope we can do it.
The fact that you are so concerned about this tells me that you are going to do everything in your power to maintain the relationship. Your boyfriend is a lucky guy. I don’t think there’s any guidance I can give you about staying in touch with him that you won’t think of on your own, but I do have some advice.
If you and your boyfriend transition seamlessly into a long distance relationship—communication is consistent, visits are meaningful, and your love deepens—then enjoy. You’re right, it will be hard but the effort will be worth it in this case.
If things become complicated, however—as they often do in college—don’t be afraid to go your separate ways. I’m sure this is the last thing you want to hear. I’m not telling you a break up must happen (please see above paragraph), but if it seems as though your boyfriend is pulling away or if your desire to be present with your friends at school becomes stronger than your desire to visit him, it’s okay. It’s normal. There are countless life experiences waiting for you.
I know people who married their high school or college sweetheart and they’re glad they did. I also know people whose eyes widen with terror at the thought of having stayed with that person from so long ago. I encourage you to keep your mind open to all the possibilities. Good luck with school!
“Let life happen to you. Believe me: life is in the right, always.” ~ Rainer Marie Rilke
My three-year-old daughter started nursery school last week and now she cries and screams every time I drop her off. The teacher assures me that she is fine after I go, but how do I help her make this transition easier. I hate leaving her like that. I feel like crying too, and I don’t want her to feel like I am deserting her.
Dear Emotional Momma,
I don’t know of many mothers that don’t struggle with this transition. Take comfort in the fact that you are not alone and that you too are right on track. There is a lot of info out there about how to ease these times in a child’s development, but I find that there are two primary things to focus on that will, at the very least, get you on your way.
Before I get straight to the practice, I would assess the basics: Is this a safe environment for baby girl? By this I mean, is she supported by her teachers and aids, and are her peers behaving safely? We all know that there is the occasional under-staffed class or kiddo that likes to push and throw rocks. Are there enough teachers and aids to give your child the attention she needs? The environment she enters into can make a big difference in her feelings about separating from you. Most importantly, is baby girl getting enough momma time at home and outside of school? Is it possible that she is simply mirroring your insecurity? These are important considerations to attend to that can support your process and potentially make for a smoother experience.
First and foremost, some mothers don’t realize the correlation between how the mother processes and expresses emotion and what the child draws from this. If you scream when you see a spider, your girl is going to have an equally fearful response when she sees one. The same goes for early separation practices. Here, I will suggest that you keep your weary emotions at bay during drop off time. Even with the most securely attached babe, she is going to look to you to see how safe the environment is and to know how to feel about the situation. If mom is nervous and emotional then baby feels uncertain and nervous, too. So, smile. Make this a positive and enjoyable parting. Use words of encouragement and simple reminders of comfort. You don’t need to explain away your decision or over indulge the crying. It is a momentary processing for her, and she will be fine as soon as you convey that she is, in fact, fine. And sometimes, a teddy bear friend to accompany her on her adventures can do wonders. Don’t let anyone sway you from using the tools of comfort that we all find helpful. Each of us must learn self-soothing techniques (as babies and as adults) and this is a practical way to do so.
Secondly, get her engaged as soon as you walk in the door. She won’t be crying and grasping for you if she is enamored with something or someone else. This is an important time for socialization and the transition from solitary play to more social play. Make these connections and activities happen as soon as you get to school and it will take moments before your daughter has moved on. If she is focused on your leaving then there is room for discomfort, but if she is focused on her immediate environment then you eliminate the subconscious second-guessing that’s happening for her. Keep it simple and upbeat while you plug her in, grab onto a moment of sentimentality, then get your butt out of there and leave her to it. She has to learn to do this. All babes do. So let go a little and relax into just one of many difficult moments of having faith in the process. When you jump into the car you can have your cry or you can remind yourself that only the best moms worry this much about the little things, and that makes you one of them. You can do this. I know you can!
You can ask Samara and Caroline questions for the Love & Life Advice Column here at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* The ideas and advice presented here are not a substitute for professional advice. Talk to your psychologist, counselor, physician or health care professional for situations that warrant further analysis.