We move them in— we move them out. It’s the longest shortest nine months
What happens during the dash of drop off and pick up is a different kind of growth. It’s the kind of growth you can’t predict or prepare for and the kind of growth every young person needs. They grow as an individual, plant their roots, and become part of a new community.
They move to a new city, maybe a new state, and a new place to call home. We set them up and help make their new beds- clean sheets, fresh blankets, and soft pillowcases. Some wash them, some never do, and welcome the musty foul smell. Some sheets get brought home at the end and some get thrown away… for sanitation purposes.
They rely on themselves to get to class, to be on time for appointments, and to find whatever they need. We are no longer blamed for missing items… if it can’t be found, it’s not moms fault.
They start at the bottom again. They have to make a new tribe, find their people and create their support system. They revisit the word “awkward”… something they forgot about as cool high school seniors. As parents, we pray they find good people, like-minded friends, and those who will accept and appreciate them for who they are. When they tell us about a new friend, we exhale and sigh. And then we follow up with 21 questions.
They get sick. It’s inevitable, but they are armed because you tucked a little box of essentials in their room before you left. Somehow though, it’s never the right stuff and they need something different. So they lean into their new family and they take care of each other. The “village” takes on a new meaning.
They go to parties, daygers or ragers. They learn new cures for their hangovers and their creativity lets you know that they are smarter than we think.
They experience sadness, disappointment, homesickness and other emotions that make you want to rush to comfort them. But we don’t, because we now sit on the sidelines. Instead, we offer a loving ear, endless support, Venmo for a smoothie and availability to talk. The rescue days are over and while we love them deeply, we can’t protect them from life experiences.
They become explorers—finding new hangouts, restaurants, shops, sites and places to go when they need to decompress. They are resourceful and become their own motivators.
They discover how fast money goes and how to budget for what matters most. They learn basic money skills, how to be creatively thrift and realize that everyone around them is just as broke at the end of the month.
They learn they can’t be liked by everyone. It’s a valuable —but hard—lesson to learn we aren’t everybody’s cup of tea and that’s more than okay. In fact, it’s great because it simply means we have distinct personalities, original ideas, personal opinions, and our own brands of creativity. Finding those who do like you is more important than focusing on those who don’t.
We move them in with full boxes but they leave with full hearts filled with new memories and experiences. The future is theirs now to create. We have given them roots and wings and they have embraced both.
It’s time to share the nest again, but with a different person. A more independent person. Less hesitant and more self-reliant. Still a slob but responsible for their mess now. Growth is optional and often messy, so we embrace the mess and celebrate the growth.
Welcome home honey. Don’t forget to pick up those wet towels off the floor and if the dishwasher is clean, please empty it.
Somethings never change.