You Cry When They Leave. You Cry When They Come Home.

There’s a secret that parents of college kids everywhere are keeping to themselves. It’s sort of a taboo subject that no one wants to talk about–but here’s the harsh reality: You cry when they leave, you cry when they come home. Really. And don’t judge. It’s a hard transition. So, now the cat’s out of the bag. I feel better just saying it out loud. Well, not  out loud in front of HIM, but ya know, to you. Can I get an amen from anyone?

Of course, our children are wonderful. Of course we miss them when they’re gone. Of course we don’t mind the grocery bill doubling. The dishes left around. The amnesia about where we keep the recycling bin. Sharing the car. Oh. Sharing the car. (Deep Breath. Breathe in Jesus, breathe out Satan.) Full blown meals made at 2:00 a.m. And of course we wouldn’t have it any other way. But there’s also a teeny part of us that gets used to  one less person to manage and navigate. And that same teeny part of us, well, liked it. A little bit.  Maybe more than they thought. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

Let’s face it. The older our kids get, the more clearly we see how different we really are from each other. That  baby born almost 20 years ago was not  a blank slate. They have their own way of doing things, their own priorities, their own style. And when it’s not the same style as yours, you can feel the house closing in you. And don’t get me wrong–they feel it too. And sometimes, that clash is not pretty.

And yet. If he didn’t come home this summer, I would be back to where I was during the year. Yes, it was nice not oversee the “dailyness” of his life and the way he manages himself–but there are tradeoffs. Waking up in the morning and wondering if he had enough to eat for breakfast. (A little pathetic, I admit–but hey–it’s a mother’s prerogative to be pathetic at times.) Laying awake at night wondering if he was okay. Not for any reason in particular. Just having a sudden feeling of needing to know he’s okay. Sometimes I would lie there and think,”I’ll just text him really, really quick and check.” But if, like many other times, he doesn’t respond immediately, then what? Should I get in the car and just really, really quick go check on him? Just kidding. My husband would surely stop me.

But there’s all the good stuff too- he’s funny. Really funny. And fun to have around. And smart. And sweet to his little sisters, which melts my heart. And what would we do if we didn’t have baseball games to attend seven nights a week? Then what? I would miss him. Horribly. The day will come soon enough when he doesn’t come home for the summer. And I know I’ll be crying then, too. But right now, I’ve got to go run my errands. He needs the car at 1:00.

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