I was so looking forward to the holiday break. I had a lot planned for the time my kids would be off from school. I was especially looking forward to my college girl coming home. I wanted her room to be perfect for her. My husband questioned why I was cleaning her room stating she could dust her own things…this was after he had already washed and waxed her car.
It was nice having all my chicks back in the same basket. However, the older chick came home two weeks before the break and stayed until January 16th.A typical break for college students compared to the standard one week given to school aged children. She came home from college with the excitement of someone who had been stranded in outer Siberia for months, ready to kick up her heels and have non- stop fun with family and friends. Keeping my younger chicks focused on school was a task I hadn’t considered.
From the minute she walked through the front door her energy was palpable… and very audible I might add. She always had boundless energy and demonstrative, gregarious personality but honestly in her absence I had grown accustom to the new calm in my household.
Yes, she came home my sweet loving girl but she had been re-wired on college time while away. The first sign of her college adjustment was her appetite. It didn’t increase or decrease; it now had an internal clock. She not only got hungry at the same times throughout the day but she was surprised that I too was not on the same meal schedule. At the college cafeteria there is no waiting for the meal to be prepared; it’s there, waiting for the campus diners. She reacted to the suggestion of making a snack or meal for herself as if I told her to go into the woods to hunt wild game and forage for berries. One night when she was first home I offered to make roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy. Her reaction could have been a Hallmark commercial. “Anything you make would be great. I miss your cooking mom.” A couple hours later she asked if the roast beef could instead be chicken, the potatoes, pasta, and the gravy alla vodka sauce.
My college girl also became a night owl -up late at night and often going out with friends at 9:30-10:00. I did the same thing 25 years ago but somehow it’s different now. Groups of other college freshmen swarmed around my house throughout the five week break. They were re-uniting – friends since grade school-all needing the familiar friendships of home. Their non-stop chatter and laughter was infectious-unless of course you had two other kids needing to study for tests and wake up at six for school.
The older chick woke up at roughly eleven each morning and immediately wanted to know what was on “our” agenda. Every day was a vacation to her and she failed to realize some of us still had responsibilities. I found myself racing through my household chores and getting all my work done in order to be available to her after noon every day.
By the time the college break was over I was anxious to get back in the groove, back to the rat race, back to a normal routine. I must say, as worn out as I felt, I had a great time with my daughter. We had a lot of one-on-one time and a lot of fun. We shopped, went into the city, had lunch out, saw movies, went away for a weekend and talked, talked, talked. One day while cleaning out a closet she began to go through her baby box which contained memorable items I collected of hers over the years. Seeing her go through the contents of her young life was the image I envisioned 19 years ago when I began to fill up that box. She laughed at pictures of herself, drawings and school reports and projects she did. She giggled at her little girl silliness, interests, and future plans back then. And she asked questions about objects that are probably more memories of mine than hers- memories of a young mother and her first baby.
As adults we function in a busy society often without coming up for air. We keep moving throughout the day from one task to another-dropping exhausted bodies into bed at night. The time I spent with my daughter; seeing her go through 19 years in less than two hours, and her daily requirement of me to enjoy some portion of the day was enlightening. I still accomplished my daily tasks but actually put an end to my work day.
We all need to hear the whisper or feel the tap on the shoulder to get us re-focused on life…even when the whisper is a loud 19 year old barreling through the front door throwing her arms around your shoulders