Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Can They Come Home Again?

Brittany made her first visit home from Western Carolina University for her fall break in October. It was also the first time she had made the drive by herself and although we told her to use MapQuest for directions, I don’t think she had them with her. John got a call on his cell that afternoon and heard her voice say, “Quick! Hendersonville or Asheville?” Luckily he is quick and realizing she was coming up to an exit, (and most likely very fast) said Asheville!” She replied, “Thanks!” and hung up.

She brought all her laundry. All. Toward the end of her stay while I was on the fifth or sixth load I mentioned there couldn’t be much left in her dorm room. “There’s none!” she replied proudly, “I even brought the T-shirts I hadn’t worn yet because they were all wrinkled in my drawers and I knew you’d smooth and fold them”!

She seemed to have a great week. I marveled at her executive skills as she juggled phone calls, putting different friends on hold while finalizing all their plans like a giant jigsaw puzzle. She managed to see everyone she wanted to and still get some sleep!

The only complaint I heard was actually overheard when she told a friend of mine, “I knew I was home when I opened the refrigerator. They have no food in the house! There was milk, carrots and some yoghurt that I put in there two months ago! I have more food in my dorm room then they have in their whole house! I should have brought them food!” (I haven’t taught her my secret talent of making meals out of nothing yet. It never ceases to amaze John.) Not that she was home for more then one dinner in the five days anyway!

She was back again for Thanksgiving and since we spent most of that long weekend at her aunt’s in DC, the refrigerator was still empty when she arrived. But, she had one day here before heading back to school and we spent it decorating the house for Christmas and making our own turkey dinner so we could have leftovers, which I packed up for her, because she told me the kids at school said they always bring Thanksgiving leftovers back with them. “That’s what’s done!” She left me with the decorating about 5 minutes after we started to visit different friends and then left on Sunday in a whirlwind. At least she took the 6 pairs of shoes that spent the weekend at our inside garage door!

I figured out fast, or maybe just remembered from when I was in college; it’s best to just let them go. They will be the first to tell you that no one at college tells them what time to go to bed so for short breaks let them make their own plans. You can deal with the rules and chores when they’re home for the whole summer. For now just ask if they had fun when they come in and listen to their answers, knowing that the house can’t get too messy in a weekend or a week and you can get it back to normal after they’re gone again.

Because after all when they are gone is your new normal.

If you'd like to buy my book; 'In These Days of Cell Phones, Texting & Social Media ... Can the Nest Ever be Truly Empty?' visit:

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