of parents converged on the Smith campus for the annual Family
Weekend festivities October 23-25. For many students, it
was a time to reconnect with their parents and siblings
and give them a snapshot of their lives away from home.
For others, it was just a weekend to endure.
By Julie Colatrella ’12
By the time my (very) Long Island
mother sauntered up to Albright House last weekend with two
huge shopping bags in hand, my housemates were ready. I had
warned them and built up their anticipation of her arrival
for more than a week. My mother did not disappoint.
up the stairs, through my door, and nearly stumbled backward
at the sight of my room. This is a mother who is impressed
by the cold symmetry of state school dorm rooms, so when
she caught sight of my 4-foot-tall windows and hardwood floors,
she had to steady herself.
“Oh my gawd,” echoed her Long Island roots as she snapped pictures.
bags landed on my bed, contents spilling out. It’s as
if she thought I was stranded in the middle of Paradise Pond
without a boat—and in need of hygiene.
She brought soaps, fragrant lotions, room fresheners, plus
enough food to feed my entire house for…one or two study
breaks. With an insistent shove into
my arms of a bottle of hand sanitizer (“You need to be careful
of swine flu!”)
it was onto the usual scrutiny of my cleaning habits.
Julie Colatrella, writing intern in College Relations,
relaxes with her mother during Family Weekend.
“Yuh closet is so disorganized!” she began. “Why are you keeping this food
unduh yuh bed? And oh my gawd, Julie, is that dust?”
It was time to remove her from
rain, I thought the easiest way to waste time with my mother
would be to give her a tour of the campus. I might have known
this would result in her accosting everyone we passed—“scuse
me, would you mind snapping our picshuh?”—in front of the
fountain, near the gates, by the library, the tree, the pebble,
We passed by the athletic field
where she was astonished to find that “girls play rugby!” We walked
past the gym where she felt a need to comment on my too-infrequent
visits there. Having survived her scrutiny and countless
campus “picshuhs,” it was time for
There was no escape there either.
As if I hadn’t
eaten in months and was incapable of feeding myself, my mother
foisted food upon me like a 2-year-old. I opted for a sandwich
and she was visibly upset by my choice.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Oh, nothing,” she said—her typical reply when something is definitely wrong. “I
just wish you would actually eat something for once.”
I rolled my eyes and reassured
her that, astonishingly enough, students are fed at Smith
College. But I lost the fight, as I knew I would, and ordered
a chicken I didn’t want to
The ensuing conversation was
even less appetizing. I attempted my usual recounting of
classes, friends, professors and activities. But inevitably
we got around to the annoying Mom questions: “So, what are you majoring in now?” she
asked. “Oh…that’s um…that’s nice. And what job are you getting
if you do that?”
I responded with sighs, sarcasm
and more eyerolls. “No, Mom,
my time at Smith is not spent learning how best to decorate
my cardboard box on the street. Yes, Mom, there are jobs
in psychology and women’s studies. No, Mom, I do not want
to run away and join a naked feminist coalition. Hey, don’t
you think it was time you were getting home?”
Goodbyes were sandwiched between
criticisms of my hair length, my weight. Awkward hugs were
exchanged as more food was thrust into my hands. Lipstick
prints were tattooed on my cheeks before my mother finally
got into her car and headed back to Long Island.
It was barely
an hour before I heard her voice again, on the telephone. “Oh, and I almost forgot,
Julie. Don’t walk downtown alone, do yuh
laundry when you run out of underwear, don’t put yuh finguhs
in yuh mouth if you haven’t washed them. And when you come
down in November, be careful of weird people on the bus.”
How long do I have before