The not-so-caring care package

October 5, 2015




Generally speaking, I’m a good Mom. My children have always been well fed, clothed and somewhat protected from the elements, at least while I was watching. I only lost one of them once, but in the end, he was found at an elderly neighbor’s house watching cartoons and eating Jell-O, so the police forgave me. But as the boys have grown older, there are new Mom-challenges for which I’m not prepared and I suddenly feel like a total loser.


I’ve been horrified to realize that I’m terrible at the art of sending care packages.


During the last two years my son has been in college and away working at summer camp, I’ve only managed to get four, maybe five boxes of goodies shipped to him, and getting those packages delivered were more complicated, and on some level more painful, than delivering the actual child 19 years earlier!


At the University’s recent Family Weekend, a student spoke to the Parent’s Association and gushed about how much it meant when he received the “you’ve got a package” email from the school’s mailroom. With a dreamy look on his face, he told of how he would rush from his dorm down to the student union and tear open the decorated box his Mother had packed with all his favorite homemade things including a needlepoint bookmark she had whipped up with his favorite Bible verse on it. Uummm . . . let me think; last year I sent my son a Darth Vader Pez dispenser and some glow-in-the-dark bracelets.


The problem is twofold; first, I don’t know what to include in the package, and second, I procrastinate like heck actually getting it in the mail. I’ll put an empty box on the corner of my desk and place a new shirt in it, then I’ll stare at the box for a few more days contemplating the contents like a valuable time capsule. I (shockingly) can’t include homemade cookies or candy because he’s finally decided to listen to what I’ve been telling him all his life and slow down on his consumption of sweets. He’s suddenly Mr. Healthy and only wants nut and berry types of things, so I’ll poke around the Piggly Wiggly until I find some dried fruit and saw-dust health bars and add those to the box.


I’ll spend a few more days thinking about it, and eventually toss in some pens and a can of Play-Dough (he liked it when he was five, and hasn’t notified me of any change), a box of rubber bands for shooting at his roommate, and a new toothbrush, because everyone can always use a new toothbrush.


When I was in college, my Mother mailed my Easter bunny which arrived completely melted flat with it’s little pink candy eyes slid cross-eyed over to one side. I scraped it out with a plastic spoon and although it was religiously disturbing, that rabbit was still pretty tasty. She also sent family photos, but nowadays, we send our son pictures by text or email. As a young co-ed, I also liked finding an envelope of what my Granddaddy called, “walking around money,” but now we can more safely transfer funds via computer as well, therefore eliminating the need for that bit of excitement.


Looking up his address, finding the big tape gun, remembering to put the package in the car, standing in line at the post office . . . why can’t I be one of the sweet Moms with a good attitude about care packages?


Maybe if I remind him of all the times in years past I made him homemade themed birthday cakes, blanket forts and plaster of paris volcanoes he’ll forgive me for the lame mother-of-big-boys I’ve become and accept my measly care packages with a grain of salt.


Salt! That’s another thing I can include in case he needs to use the family remedy for a sore throat and gargle with warm salty water. I’ll add that to the list for next time. It really is the thought that counts, right?


This story first appeared in The Baldwin Times.

  • Many, many, many years ago I started a company called TLC Long Distance to prepare customized care packages for parents to send to their kids. I had an order form with dozens and dozens of choices of things to include. Great concept, terrible execution of the idea. I sold 2 – and one was to my own child. If only Shark Tank was around back then. I’m sure that Barbara or Mark would take me under their wing and make TLC Long Distance a huge success!

    • Leslie Anne says:

      It truly is a great idea, but with so many kids these days being either picky, or allergic, or healthy, or . . . I can see where it would be difficult to please everyone. At least you gave it a try. I love it when people launch businesses. No matter how they end up, it’s the thrill of knowing you tried!

  • With my granddaughter, I did the easy thing and used one of the “survival package” sites available on the Internet. You can choose healthy snacks or junk food and they send it for you. Her father said that she survived on it while at home for a break. The closest thing to a snack in her parents’ house is kale chips.

    • Leslie Anne says:

      Grandmothers are supposed to provide all the forbidden treats! Good job!

  • My husbands Dad called it “lunch money”, cash is always good. I did those for my girls, I will have to ask them if they remember them?

  • Susie Hinson says:

    When our daughter was at Auburn and our son at UTKnoxville, we always sent the care packages before exams. The schools would send me a letter detailing which packages we could choose (otherwise I’d never have remembered). The kids just loved them but I always sent Mom’s Special Chocolate Chip Cookies throughout the year to share with their friends/roommates. My kids are in their 40’s now but still talk about that. I think as long as your children know you love them, are excited to see them come home on holidays/random weekends and welcome their friends into your home, you’ve got it all covered. We all do what we can when we can. I’m sure your boys know how much they’re loved by you and their dad!

    • Leslie Anne says:

      Those cookies sound really good! And I think you are right about letting them know they’re loved!

  • Yup… I know that guilt feeling, Not so great on the care packages but when the going gets tough … we take care of it. A brand new computer is being overnighted at this moment after a major crash and multitude of tears. I was never too good on the care packages go tho.

  • “No sweets”.commendable but you are right, that really limits the easier items. You are so funny!

    • Leslie Anne says:

      I have a sneaking suspicion he wouldn’t throw the M&M’s away!

  • Ha! Yep, just send cash, it will never disappoint 🙂

    • Leslie Anne says:

      Did my son tell you to say that?

  • I was the same way Leslie Anne! But Alabama did a neat thing. At finals etc you could order a care package from them and have it delivered to the student. Made me feel a little better!!

    • Leslie Anne says:

      Samford does the same thing during finals week. It includes a giant cookie and some other cute things, but of course, my son sent a preemptive note to me that said he would rather have the cash! It took all the fun right out of it!

  • I enjoyed this look at care packages from your point of view–funny as always. Made me smile and brought back memories of me trying to put together packages for hubby when he was away during Operation Desert Storm/Shield way back when, and son when he was off numerous times with the Army. I experienced the same struggles. I think you’re right–no matter what’s actually in the package, they must have appreciated the fact that we tried. And they know that love was packed in there along with the other stuff.

    • Leslie Anne says:

      Judy, I think I would try a little harder with the packages if my son were being shot at in a foreign country than swinging in his Eno on campus with cute girls! What kind of pressure you were under to send the perfect package! Good for you!

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