They Are Home!!!!
The holidays are fast approaching. You’ve cooked for days. You’ve planned all of your child’s favorite meals. You are picking them up from the airport or their college on Friday and keeping them until Sunday. You have every minute of the day planned. You have missed your child so much your heart is bursting with excitement!!!
A Dose of Reality
As a parent who has been here before, let me give you a reality check. Their time home won’t look anything like you envisioned. It’s time to realize that your child has been away from home for 3-4 months and has been managing their time without you.
Yes, they may have called you. Yes, they may have texted you. I will tell you that they missed you even if they didn’t tell you in so many words. They have also made new friendships, dated, cleaned their clothes, decided what to eat and when. They have started to realize that there is a big wild world out there. Even bigger than they thought. They’ve met people from other states, other countries. Their opinions may have changed. The drama of high school has been replaced with the drama of college.
I cannot stress enough that you really need to have an honest discussion with your son/daughter. They are only home for a little bit before they head back. You don’t want this time home met with shouts, tears and slamming doors – by you! On the ride home ask them what they are thinking of for this break.
Be open to not seeing them much, but make the time you do see them precious. Plan one family day. Yes, you read that right. ONE. They have been away from you, but they have also been away from friends. Understand and be flexible.
I know. This is so hard to do, but it is reality. Here are some things you can expect….
- Visits by friends. Visits to friends.
- Sleeping when you are awake and awake when you are sleeping.
- New likes and dislikes.
- Complete slobs because they are tired of doing everything.
- Independent young adults who want to do their own laundry. Yes, this does happen.
- Homework and lots of it. This isn’t high school, many professors give work to do or they may have a large project that needs work.
- Lots of time on their phones, talking and texting with other students you have no clue who they are and are referred to as “my friend at school” “my classmate”. Guy? Girl? Name? Where are they from? Yeah, don’t expect to get answers. Will they share? Maybe. Don’t be surprised if you get the “you wouldn’t know them…” answer.
- Eating new foods you tried and failed for years to get them to eat.
The most important thing I can tell you is to manage your expectations. Be open to seeing your child as this new person. You want them to come home again, right? You want them to go back thinking about the awesome time they had, not the arguments that ensued. They are trying to find their way. Who they will be. You don’t want to stomp on all their hopes and dreams and these new life experiences.
When They Don’t Come Home
Oh my gosh! This is the hardest! I am going to be totally honest with you. We have one that has not come home during all his breaks from college. It just isn’t in the cards. He goes to school on the East Coast and we live on the West Coast. Even watching the airlines it’s not cheap. He has always come home for Winter break and some time in the summer months.
Does it break this mama heart not to have one of our twins home? YES! What has he done during those breaks when he hasn’t been home? There are many students in the same boat. Luckily he has a couple of friends whose families are more local and they always invite him for part or all of his break. Here are how his breaks went so far….
- Freshman Year: He came home for everything, including summer job.
- Sophomore Year: He spent Thanksgiving with friends. He came home for Winter break. He spent the summer at school taking courses and came home for three weeks between sessions.
- Junior Year: He spent Thanksgiving with friends. He came home for Winter break. He came home for 10 days in the summer.
- Senior Year: He has an interview the Monday of Thanksgiving break and then heads to a friends. He’ll be home for Winter break and then who knows where life will take him.
As hard as it is not to have them home every moment, I know they are growing into the young men we hoped. This mama wants to hold them and squeeze them and tell them I love them. I also know that to keep them close means I need to give them space.
We take our lead from them. We let them be the guide. We don’t expect them to both react the same and want the same things. When they want to talk, we talk. We they want to come home, we move mountains to make that happen. When they are home and up all hours talking with friends and then sleeping in, we let them. We let them know what we would like to do and then we play it by ear.
Enjoy every moment and every hour with your sons and daughters. Love them. All of them. The old and the new parts. In the end, our sons know we are proud of them both and that we love them. That is the most important thing after all, isn’t it?