When I pictured my children in college, I envisioned young people wearing their school t-shirts surrounded by new friends and roaming a campus. What I didn’t picture was the empty bedrooms they would leave behind.
For me, that has been one of the most difficult parts of the next stage of life. My daughter, and now my son are living their lives, enjoying college, many miles from home. And, here I am walking past their empty bedrooms feeling a pang of loneliness every time I look in. I have had other parents tell me they shut their children’s bedroom door when they leave home. I can’t bring myself to do that because part of me wants to see their belongings and picture them still in their rooms.
In high school, my son and daughter turned into giant slobs. I am not a neat freak by any means, but I couldn’t stand the overwhelming mess – every drawer open, empty water bottles on their dressers, stuff all over. I nagged them regularly to pick dirty clothes up off the floor and make their beds. I even hung a sign on the garage door stating that no one leaves the house without their beds made. (It didn’t work!) My teens seemed baffled by my need for cleanliness. One weekend I stood at the door of their bedrooms refusing to let them go out until the tidiness met my approval.
Now, the bedrooms are clean and exactly in the pristine condition I insisted they be in when they left home. That’s definitely the upside. But there are days when I would trade the clean room for my kids’ presence. Yes, I admit, I long to see a dirty sock on the floor.
For all you parents frustrated when your teen’s room looks like a disaster zone, feel free to insist on cleanliness. But know the day lies ahead when the mess will go away and unfortunately, your teen will too.