Remember how much I fretted about the impending, looming empty nest that we faced last year at this time?
Remember how, within about a month last summer, three of our kids flew the coop? First Peter headed to Washington State University, then shortly after he left, Kat moved into her own place in Seattle’s University District and finally, less than two weeks later, Aleks moved into a fraternity at University of Washington?
Well, it turns out that parents aren’t the only ones who go through huge adjustments when it comes to kids and college. I conveniently forgot about this from my own youth, but for college students, coming home to live with parents again after being relatively independent for a year is at least as excruciating and traumatic as their leaving is for their parents.
Our family is close-knit, communication between parents and kids is generally open and strong, and Tom and I haven’t inflicted many rules on the kids this summer (other than the basic “respect the community you live in”).
Coming back home to live with their parents must be as hard for adult kids as letting them go in the first place is for us! Peter is champing at the bit to get back to Pullman – not because he doesn’t want to be home with his parents and siblings and not because he feels stifled here… but simply because he’d gotten accustomed to living on his own in his own apartment, and now his mom is asking him to throw his socks in the laundry again!
I remember that first summer home surrounded by parents being (god forbid!) parents! I longed to get back to school too… and I never again came home for a full summer, choosing instead to work summers at the University of California Family Camp. I was just past living at home at that point – and I think that’s exactly where Peter is now, poor guy.
Elisabeth has been out for years now and since moving back to Seattle after graduating from Cal in 2006, she’s very much established her own household. And Aleks and Kat are newly sophomores so probably not hit quite as hard by the need to be independent.
But poor Peter! He’s 22 and really ready to be on his own. He’s too polite to make an obvious stink, and he’d never say anything overtly hurtful to us (like “Oh my god, my parents are driving me nuts and I can’t wait to go back to school!”), but I can sense it. Fortunately for him, school starts in August and he kinda sorta needs to be there to set up his apartment for, oh, at least a week before that.
Much as I’ll miss him, I totally get his itching to go. It’s how he should be feeling. It’s part of this whole growing up and letting go process.
Or am I projecting and the growing up and letting go is mine to do… yet again?!