What to Expect when Your Kid Leaves for College


Three days prior: Something will happen to your brain chemistry three days before move-in day, which you will find odd since you’ve been preparing for at least a year. The sheer magnitude of what is happening will somehow manage to absolutely blindside you despite the amount of preparing you’ve been doing the months before: Her chair will be empty at dinner. When you pile up on the couch to start a new Netflix marathon she won’t be part of it. You will walk past her room and it will be abandoned, stripped of her favorite things. You’ll wake up in the mornings and she won’t be there. You are dying and the world is about to end. You know, rational thoughts.

Two days prior: You will have an inexplicable need to be near her as much as possible. You will find yourself randomly compelled to touch her hair and her face like a crazy person which, parenthetically, is her least favorite thing ever. You will find her giving you the kind of side-eye that a woman on a dark street might give to a man she suspects might be a psychotic stalker who plans to wear her skin. She will manage to patiently tolerate you as you stare at her like one of those big-eyed stray animal paintings from the 60’s that used to hang in your Pawpaw Virgil’s house.

^What Kristen saw when she looked at me, all of this week.

“Is this snuggling or smothering, technically speaking?” you will ask yourself.  Self will reply, “Who knows! Not me! Get closer to her.”

One day prior: You will have sudden bouts of absolute panic about what you might not have bought that she might find herself in need of after you are gone. You’ll say something like, “Why did we decide against a bed skirt? OH MY GOD DO YOU THINK YOU NEED A BED SKIRT? LET’S GO BUY A BED SKIRT RIGHT NOW.” The bed skirt will feel life-or-death. You will be literally convinced that the absence of the bed skirt will end life on this planet as we know it. She will be forced to talk you down with her superpowers of sanity and rational thinking. You will bemoan her lack of bed skirt. You will make her promise that if she finds that she does need a bed skirt that she won’t panic, that she should REMAIN CALM because you will Amazon Prime that crap directly to her new mailbox overnight. You will realize she will have her own new mailbox, and you will cry about that when you think she’s not looking.

The day of: You will load her belongings in the car while silently weeping and snotting everywhere. Your own parents will call and stop by and the concern on their faces will make you crumble and you will wonder if you were nice enough to them when you left home a billion years ago before cell phones were even a thing. Your husband will pat you on the back and kiss you on the forehead and silently hand you tissues. This, as you might guess by this point, will also make you cry. Sad songs on the drive will have the expected effect. No surprises there. “Of all the things my hands have held, the best by far is you…” Thanks for that Andrew McMahon, you sadistic asshole.

You’ll surprisingly make it through the unloading/lunch/walking around campus part in good spirits. You can enjoy this part. It’s exciting and fun, plus you need this time to drink lots of water because between the heat and the work and the walking and the crying, you probably should hydrate. You will enjoy how excited she is and note how adorable she is when she’s pretending not to be nervous. You will be so proud of her that you will think you are going to burst.

When you leave her: When you give her a hug and kiss the top of her head  you will literally feel like the perky RA just kicked you in the gut. You will try not to be a mess as you leave her because now you’re worried that she will be sad and homesick. You’ll put on your sunglasses even though you haven’t made it out of the dorm hallway yet and you’ll get into your car and your eyes will leak off and on for the entire ride home.

Then, your youngest might do something precious like put her fingertips through the space between your seat and headrest and wiggle them against your shoulder, handing you a sticky note with a little sketch of her with her arms spread open for a hug.


And as you put the sticky note on the dash directly in front of you and stare at it, it will occur to you that you’ll have to do this again in three short years.




To My Confederate Flag Waving Friends

Nobody really listens anymore.

I mean really listens.  Hears.  It’s as if everyone is afraid that if they do, they have to reconsider their opinions, so instead we debate and argue and scream each other down.  We get defensive and angry so we don’t have to allow ourselves to be changed, because allowing ourselves to be changed means admitting the possibility we may have been wrong.  And more than anything else in this political and social climate, the most terrible thing anyone could be is wrong, amIright?

This week, in the aftermath of Charleston, my social media feed is filled with talk about the Confederate battle flag.  People I’ve never known to be so passionate about that old lifeless piece of material are incensed that the Governor of our state of Alabama has had the flag removed from capitol grounds.  These people, good people, are irate and in their anger they are reacting in a way I do not understand.  If you are one of those people, I hope you’ll carve out a couple of minutes with me to listen, really listen, and allow for the possibility that you might be changed.  If after hearing me you still hold tight to that Old Stainless Banner, then fine…you’re just an asshole.  KIDDING, KIDDING.  We will simply still disagree and we will go on with our lives shooting eye daggers across the room when we meet.  KIDDING AGAIN.  It’s what I do in tense situations. Deal.

So let’s start the portion of the day where I possibly bore you to tears.

I wonder if you know that the battle flag did not always fly over South Carolina’s state capitol?  It wasn’t always there…it was added in 1962, in direct response to the Civil Rights movement.  Yes, let that sink in.  It was placed there as a big F You to those who were fighting for basic, equal rights for black Americans.  What’s worse, when this was done they had a little ceremony in a room at the capitol and literally locked out the black representatives.  It was later moved to the grounds of the capitol as a compromise…but it was locked into place at the top of the flag pole.  This means it always flights at full staff, even when Old Glory flies at half staff.  Ya’ gotta’ give ’em credit for being serious with their jabs.  Those white boys weren’t just playing around, y’all.

In Alabama, it was much the same story.  The flag wasn’t always flying there as a normal part of honoring the state’s history.  It came to reside there permanently only in 1963, a response from Alabama when George Wallace when then Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy came to discuss ending segregation at Alabama’s schools.  Later it was removed, with great controversy, and placed on capitol grounds.  This week Bentley ordered it removed and most of you proceeded to lose your shit.  I get it.  It’s a memorial, I know, and I wouldn’t myself be horribly offended by it being on a confederate memorial…except that it is on state capitol grounds, and it was only put there after it had to be forced off the dome.  If it wasn’t on the memorial before that ugly controversy, I think the memorial will be okay without it now.

Has that softened your hearts?  No?  Hang in with me.

Some of you may still be saying to yourselves, “But that is not what the flag means to me.  They’ve just co-opted it for racist causes.  The flag really means heritage, and the civil war was not about slavery.”  I hope you will indulge me for a few minutes more, and I hope you will still try to hear me.  I think we, as proud southerners, tend to lie to ourselves a little bit on this point.  It’s not out of hate that most of us do this…I think it’s generally from a good place, because we do not want it to have been about slavery.  But let me show you a few things.

When the south decided upon secession, the states each wrote up their casus belli, or justification for doing so and thus going to war.

South Carolina’s reads:

...A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction. This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.

And here is Alabama’s:

Upon the principles then announced by Mr. Lincoln and his leading friends, we are bound to expect his administration to be conducted. Hence it is, that in high places, among the Republi­can party, the election of Mr. Lincoln is hailed, not simply as it change of Administration, but as the inauguration of new princi­ples, and a new theory of Government, and even as the downfall of slavery. Therefore it is that the election of Mr. Lincoln cannot be regarded otherwise than a solemn declaration, on the part of a great majority of the Northern people, of hostility to the South, her property and her institutions—nothing less than an open declaration of war—for the triumph of this new theory of Government destroys the property of the South, lays waste her fields, and inaugurates all the horrors of a San Domingo servile insurrection, consigning her citizens to assassinations, and. her wives and daughters to pollution and violation, to gratify the lust of half-civilized Africans.


Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery—the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin…


As a separate republic, Louisiana remembers too well the whisperings of European diplomacy for the abolition of slavery in the times of an­nexation not to be apprehensive of bolder demonstrations from the same quarter and the North in this country. The people of the slave holding States are bound together by the same necessity and determination to preserve African slavery.

I could go on but I think…I hope…you see what I mean.  Were there other reasons, including state’s rights?  Yes…state’s rights to continue with enslaving an entire race of human beings, mostly.  Economic?  Yes, the economy of slavery, which made an extremely high concentration of wealth for a very small percentage of southerners:

In 1860 the South was richer than any country in Europe except England, and it had achieved a level of wealth unmatched by Italy or Spain until the eve of World War II.

The southern economy generated enormous wealth and was critical to the economic growth of the entire United States. Well over half of the richest 1 percent of Americans in 1860 lived in the South. Even more important, southern agriculture helped finance early 19th century American economic growth. Before the Civil War, the South grew 60 percent of the world’s cotton, provided over half of all U.S. export earnings, and furnished 70 percent of the cotton consumed by the British textile industry. Cotton exports paid for a substantial share of the capital and technology that laid the basis for America’s industrial revolution.


I know for a fact that most people do not know these things, and I think that when you don’t know these things it is easy to be swayed to believe that the confederate flag is one we should be proud of.  But when ya’ know better ya’ do better, y’all.   The flag is a part of our history, yes.  I have ancestors who fought for it.  But I don’t know if that means we have to honor and celebrate it.  It should be in museums, yes.  If you wish to have one, you have that right, yes.  But it has no place flying on the grounds of state capitols that are supposed to be representative of all of our citizens, including our black brothers and sisters in Christ (a helping of good Christian guilt to finish you off.  I’m good, right?).

Because what if this isn’t a proud flag that has been co-opted by a racist cause.  What if instead, good people have convinced themselves to co-opt a racist flag, and now refuse to let it go even though it is a direct affront to our brother and our God who tells us, “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus”?

Some of you may be saying to yourselves, “Lord, Angie’s done turned liberal.”  But y’all, if being an acceptable conservative means defending the above, I weep for the conservative cause.  This should have nothing to do with liberal or conservative, left, or right, Republican or Democrat.  And if it does, then I’m sorry but I want none of it.  Zero parts of it.  You can have it ’cause Angie’s out.  This isn’t about left or right for me, and I really wish…I hope…that it isn’t for you either.

I wish more of us would be more concerned with what IS right rather than with BEING right.  I really do.

I hope that everyone will soften their hearts, especially in the light of what happened in Charleston so very recently…and listen and hear.  Dare to let your hearts be softened and your minds changed.  Because with all of the ugliness, wouldn’t that be the best silver lining we could hope for?  Is it possible?  I really hope so.

Furry Floor Blues

On the floors and under the chairs,
Dog hair, cat hair everywhere.
In the corners and up the stairs,
#*$&$@* pet hair everywhere!
I sweep all day I vacuum at night,
Furry tumbleweeds still in sight.
Dyson Pet? My floors just laugh.
I think I’d need a maid on staff.
Bottoms of socks collect it well
To taunt me when I sit a spell.
Martha Stewart would have fled
(Don’t tell her I didn’t make the bed).
But that’s okay, can’t be depressed
With a dog at my feet and a cat on my chest.
So snuggle up and hand me a book.
As for the floors? We just won’t look.

Things That are Awesome About Teenagers: A Comprehensive List

I’ve noticed that more often than not when I get a compliment on my kids these days it is kind of coated in pleasant surprise that we all actually still like each other now that they are 16 and 13.  We’re right in the thick of the teenage years and I’m realizing that a lot of people are terrified by the thought.  Honestly I was one of them at one time.  I think that there’s this misconception out there that these years are destined to be full of angst and slammed doors and, well I’m just gonna’ say it…moody, hormonal assholes.  But I’m here to tell you that isn’t true.

I mean, okay maybe that’s sometimes true.  But they usually forgive me.  Badump bump.

Lean in and let me tell you a secret that is not often told: The teenage years can be really, incredibly awesome.  I’d even go so far as to say this is my favorite phase of parenthood yet.  Well, at least tied with that sweet, chubby, laughing baby phase.

Things That are Awesome About Teenagers: A Comprehensive List

1.  A teenager will NEVER wake you up at twenty til the buttcrack of dawn asking for Cheerios after she has kept you up all night insisting with a pouty lip that she needs to immediately watch The Little Mermaid for the eleventy-millionth time WITH YOU.

2.  Teenagers want to sleep in their own rooms…nay, in their own beds in a weird teenage blanket-burrito formation that keeps all their limbs neatly tucked in and will make you wonder why they didn’t sleep burrito style like that all the times they kept sneaking into your bed and somehow simultaneously stuffing one foot in your ear and another firmly in your crotch  while you prayed, “Just two solid hours of sweet, sweet sleep please God please.”

3.  If a teenagers spill something they can clean it up they dang selves.  What what.

4.  Teenagers do not demand to be carried, say, from the furthest point in the mall all the way to the car at the end of the parking lot.  They will willingly walk.  Unimaginable while you’re stuck in the toddler phase, isn’t it?  And even if they do get a little tired and over it, I have found that you can get them moving again by telling them that you think you saw a Starbucks near the entrance on the way in.

5.  You can share shoes and sometimes clothes.  I mean, they’ll always look better in them but let’s not focus on that.  This is a happy list.

6.  Teenagers can have actual meaningful conversations with you.  You know those days when you think that if you don’t get some grownup talky-time with someone who, say, doesn’t let their own nose drippings flow directly into their mouth that you might die by your own hands?  Boom!  You’ve got it!  Your teenager has real grownup thoughts and opinions on politics and religion and pop culture and love and there will be times when you will be stunned by the maturity and wisdom that just came out of the same mouth that just asked you how you tell if muffins look “done.”

7.  If they have a booger you can tell them and they’ll just, like, go handle that.

8. You can leave them home alone and go run errands, or get a pedi, or have a date night with your husband and not have to get a babysitter or worry that they might drown in a five-gallon bucket or stick their finger in a socket.  I know, that’s a revolutionary thought right now, isn’t it?   And moms everywhere shouted “FREEDOMMMM!”

9.  You realize that they are really growing into becoming their own person.  Not a mini-you.  Not a mini-him.  A separate, beautiful, independent and amazing person.  There will still be shadows and whispers of you and your spouse, to be sure, but there will be impressive and wonderful things there that you can take no credit for (believe me, I’ve tried. Nobody bought it) and you will marvel at them. This is when you realize your offspring aren’t merely little reflections of you, and that if you treat them as such you’re doing them a huge disservice (Btw, if you’re still doing that, stop it. Stop it now).

10.  Once they are 16 they can go to the grocery store for you when you forget the milk.  I don’t really feel like this one needs to be expanded upon.  It’s that obviously awesome.

I think that pretty much sums it up, but I reserve the right to add to this list often over the next several years.

Don’t fear the teenager, young moms.  And meanwhile appreciate those other stages too, because as much as I’m enjoying the now I don’t know that we ever stop longing for the yesterday too.  I guess that’s just part of it, isn’t it?