No Sugar Added: College is more memorable the 2nd time around

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You know the saying, “time flies”? Well, the more mature I get (and I’m talking mature as measured by years on this planet, not as measured by my behavior), the more I do indeed believe that it’s going by not just at a quick trot, but at the equivalent of Mach 5.

This past weekend, I woke up in my daughter’s college apartment. And as I headed downstairs to the standard-issue college apartment bathroom, I thought, “Wait! I’m supposed to be the one accompanying my mom downstairs so she doesn’t frighten my roommates. I’m not supposed to be the mom! How did this happen?”

College is a wonderful, magical time. However, when we’re fortunate enough to be in the thick of it, we are (unfortunately) not always aware of this fact.

When I was the one living with four female roommates, pulling all-nighters, subsisting on popcorn, Farina, rice cakes with peanut butter (and the occasional box of frozen spinach), I did not fully appreciate the experience. Nor did I appreciate that I was, in terms of growth and development, a creature with superhuman abilities.

For instance, I didn’t appreciate that I could sleep for four hours for five consecutive nights and still have the energy to lift a fork to my mouth. Or speak in a coherent manner.

These days, even when I pull only a half-an-all-nighter, I am not a happily functioning person the next day. And if I attempt it two nights in a row, I’m not someone you’d want to join for coffee.

I recently reconnected with an old college friend. As soon as I saw his photo again and read some of his witty words, I was transported back to the 1980s. Bam. Poof! Just like in “Back to the Future.” Power up the flux capacitor.

How can that be? How can we have such splendid and vivid recall? How can it really seem like “just yesterday?” Apparently, one of the blessings of the “maturing” process is that we can remember what our college bedspread looked like, but often not what we ate for lunch three days ago.

Personally, I don’t think any amount of cold-pressed-Norwegian-fish-oil will change this situation to any great degree. And really, that’s OK with me.

There is a reason our memories develop some holes, like Swiss cheese. There is a reason we don’t remember the names of our date’s kids. Our brains are filled to capacity. We’ve seen enough. We don’t want any more information. Please. Stop! (I once heard a comedian say this exact thing and thought it was hysterical,which is why I’m stealing it.)

But back to my college musings.

There is something gratifying and very sweet about being a mother and visiting a daughter at college. Swooping in to rescue your young bird from her college nest, if only for a few hours and dinner at a restaurant. A good restaurant. One with menus. And without pizza, chicken fingers, or hamburgers.

And I never would have imagined how much fun it would be to go to a grocery store.

Going grocery shopping with a college student is like seeing the world through a new pair of contact lenses. So much excitement. Who knew that a box of frozen waffles or a bottle of real maple syrup or a package of cherry tomatoes could bring so much happiness to a human being?

When you’ve been doing it for decades on end, things like food shopping can become dull, to say the least. When you’re in college, however, a trip to Stop & Shop with mom (and her credit card) is akin to winning an all-expense paid vacation to Paris or Hawaii.

I can’t believe how much fun it is to be the fairy Godmother instead of Cinderella.

Who knew one of the greatest joys of parenthood would involve making sure your college student has a plentiful supply of Annie’s Mac & Cheese? And toilet paper?

My little chicken has flown the coop. For the second year. And it keeps getting better.

I just hope I remember all of it.

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No Sugar Added is Cape Elizabeth resident Sandi Amorello’s biweekly take on life, love, death, dating and single parenting. Get more of Sandi at or contact her at