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Helicopter Mommy

I just got back from a week on a bus trip with 40 college students. It was my first time away from Caroline and it was excrutiating. I've known about the trip for months but nothing could prepare me for the stress and heart break of leaving my baby for a week mixed with the dangerous cocktail of becoming the mother of a gaggle of 18-22 year olds for five days.

The morning I left, I choked back tears as Caroline gave me a limp wristed good bye and shook her Weeble in my direction. Prior to the trip my sanity had been slipping from me as I fielded anxious calls from parents about fulfilling their child's hopes and dreams during the trip and hinting that my behind would be on the line if things didn't go as promised. That morning I was crying about missing my baby but maybe crying even more about taking on the responsiblity of 80 other parents' babies.

As I sat on the bus loaded with sleeping, hoody-wearing, ipod-clad students, I wondered how I got into my current situation of preparing college students for life beyond the classroom and how to manage ones expectations about life in the twenties. And preparing their parents as well.

By mid-week I was feverish, sitting in a cramped hostel whimpering as loud British boys shook my doorknob repeatedly. I couldn't even think about Caroline without feeling sick. I missed her sweet smelling hair, her soft skin and holding her tightly before laying her down in her crib each night. I fell into bed that night after phoning a few students to check on the status of their health (stomach bug & flu), to give directions for the following day and to field complaints. (It's hard to walk around the city. Why is the other group of students' hostel so much nicer? Why is a taxi so expensive?)

By Friday I was emotionally and physically exhausted but elated. In only hours I'd be back home with Caroline. We got back to campus and dragged our tired bodies off the bus. But before I could rush back to my baby I had to make sure everyone had their bags, their car keys and smiles on their faces- proof of a week well worth their parents' money and support.

When I got home, seeing Caroline wiggle over to me like no time had passed filled my heart with an aching love. All I want in life is for her to be healthy, safe and happy. I want all of her dreams to come true and for her to know she can reach for the stars and grab them. Sometimes I cringe envisioning my head being chopped off by one of the hovering helicopter parents I now deal with, but then I think about them putting their babies in cribs at night. Their babies that are now the college students participating in my program.

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