When I moved my two older children into their college dorms what I didn’t foresee was their return home. They came home this summer more mature, more independent and had lots of their own ideas and thoughts about politics, equality, meal choices and curfews.
The first few weeks with everyone home it was a big adjustment for the entire family. I had to pull back my natural inclination to do things for my older teens and let them buy their own toiletries, fill their own prescriptions and make their own doctor’s appointments. When my two older ones were in high school, I always waited up at night for them to get home. This summer, I had to let go a little bit, ease up on the curfew and get comfortable with going to sleep before they returned home.
As the summer went on, we settled into a nice place as a family. My daughter and I had amazing conversations about life and love and spent time together as friends. My son and I talked about religion and travel and had a few deep conversations about life. Now it’s September and my two college students have returned to campus and I must cope with change once again. In some ways, it’s more difficult this time. They didn’t need me to help them choose classes and they seemed excited to go back. Now that they are gone, so is the chaos that surrounds them, their friends who congregated at our home playing games, laughing and socializing. I miss it.
With one child still at home, I still feel the normal angst that parents experience when the new school year kicks in. What is different though is the sense that my life revolves around my children as it did for so many years. I now know that my teenagers will leave and return and leave again and that I must create a new sense of self that plans for the good times ahead and learns to be okay with the house emptying and filling and emptying again.
Rather than complaining, I owe it to myself to realize change is part of life. Whether our children are leaving the nest, whether we’re relocating to a new city, whether we are taking on a new job, a big life change can be an adventure. It can be a time to meet new people, identify new interests, have new experiences and create a new chapter in our lives.
Summer officially is over, the new school year is here, and I’m making the emotional adjustment to enjoy all that lies ahead.
As many of my friends drove their teens to college for the first time and returned home without them, I gave them this advice: ” You will miss them, but if they are happy, you will be too.” Now, I have to take my own advice.