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   Date: 10/29/09 Bookmark and Share

Family Weekend Diary

Hundreds 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.

A Visit from My Mothuh

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.

She marched 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.

The shopping 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 the house.

Despite Saturday’s 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, the squirrel...

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 dinner.

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 eat.

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 Thanksgiving?

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