Archive for the ‘kids leaving home’ Tag

What’s This Supposed to Look Like?   1 comment

Zach came home from college on April 28th and I haven’t written much since then due to spending my time trying to figure out how it works to live with an adult child in the best possible way.

I think I know what I ought to do and what I want to do, but I’m not sure it’s actually working out that way.

It is clear that a child who is now over the age of 18 and has been eating, sleeping, studying, working, and traveling without you for the past eight months, clearly does not need your help.  He is a paid employee of the university he attends.  He went to a country on another continent and back, which you have never done.

But since you’re the mom, and you’ve been refining your mom instincts and your mom gig for the past almost 19 years, it’s very difficult to just put that down and set it aside.  It’s programmed.  It’s biological. It’s common sense.  It’s your life’s work here.  You’re good at helping, shepherding, cleaning, feeding, directing and loving.

How do you do that only enough to be supportive and useful, not annoying?

As an adult child, I know what I like from my parents.  I like encouragement , respect, and an attitude of confidence that I’m doing well and I can handle things.  I also like to know that if I change my mind about being able to handle things…..they will be there as backup.  Of course, it’s possible that my adult child has a different list for how he wants to be treated now that he’s an adult.

Zach and I have talked about it a little, and there have been a few times since he’s been home when he has let me know, usually with a little gentle sarcasm, that he will survive if I will back off.

Like the evening last week when he left for a night tutoring appointment, and apparently I was  hovering too much, because he told me he was unlikely to get killed traveling there and back, that I should go to bed instead of waiting up for him, and that he had the sense to call me if he needed something.

At the same time that he requires respect and autonomy, he is glad to be home enjoying home cooking and hugs from his mother and father.  He needs time with us, to enjoy our company, and get some TLC after a challenging first year of college.

It’s not either/or, it’s both/and, I guess.

Posted June 18, 2014 by swanatbagend in parenting, transitions

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Too (Good) Busy to Blog   Leave a comment

It’s been a couple of weeks since I wrote anything.  I was on a roll there and didn’t expect to slow down, but the past two weeks have sped by.

Why is it that I thought there wouldn’t be much going on during our Christmas vacation?  Because there really wasn’t anything major.  We stopped regular appointments and activities and just focused on spending time with family.  And that is what we did!  It was a wonderful two weeks with Zach home from the 22nd to today.  Now that my parents live only 35 minutes away we enjoyed their company four different times during the two weeks, including an overnight at our house for Christmas Eve.

Then we took a road trip Christmas Day to see the other side of the family and had 24 hours with them, followed by Grandma and Greg’s oldest brother returning with us for a couple more days of visiting.

Then there was the hike at the new trail system in our area with giant sycamore trees by the river, and the Hobbit movie.  We spent an afternoon with friends from our former homeschool co-op.

It really didn’t leave much time for anything but preparing food, eating, cleaning up, visiting and thoroughly enjoying ourselves.

Hence no blog entries whatsoever.

I hadn’t planned on that.  I thought I would be scrapbooking, reading, blogging and making candles, in addition to the Christmas festivities, but maybe that wasn’t realistic.  It was more important to just live and enjoy, and that’s what I did.

I do think having Zach home for two weeks, that I thought in advance was a long period of time, also made it go by even faster, as much as I tried to slow it down with my mind powers.

It never works.

And now I’m trying to adjust.  Tomorrow we start back to school, Zach at college and the youngers at home.  This is my first post-Christmas, back to school, where one is gone again.  Not crazy about that experience at this point.  Hoping it will get better.

Posted January 5, 2014 by swanatbagend in transitions

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8 more days   Leave a comment

In 8 more days, I get to see my boy again.

And no, I’m not counting down.  At least I haven’t been the entire time he’s been gone.  Nope — when I saw that it was three plus months between now and then, I definitely chose not to mess with  my head by counting down.

But now that it’s less than two weeks away I confess that is how my brain works each day when I look at the calendar for the days’ events, usually just to check and see that I’m not missing anything important.

My brain then goes, “10 more days til we see Zach,” or however many more days it is, of its own volition.

This fall has gone well with school, bypassing my traditional “Start of Term Meltdown,” for which all involved are grateful.  At this point I don’t worry that I can’t possibly help the kids learn this year.  So much the better.  We’ve enjoyed fall, the kids are both moving forward with their work, and re-grouping is starting to make sense to Beren.  Helena has archery practice every Monday night, and scouts every other week, and Beren has participated in two STEM classes at the local science center downtown.

So we’ve been busy enough that we haven’t been completely lost without Zach, but almost every day, what Zach does, did, thinks, said or would say, comes up in conversation amongst the four of us.

Just tonight, Beren was putting plates out on the table, and started off, “Mom there aren’t enough–Oh.”  So, we still haven’t fully adjusted to not being five people.

And the closer we get to the first reunion after Zach left for college, the more I think about him.  Even though he is now officially a Pimento Loafed Iguana Man, and not just a Youth-Man-Thingie.  Maybe he’s both.

Anyway, we’ll sure be glad to see him.

Posted November 19, 2013 by swanatbagend in Uncategorized

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What I Would Have Missed   Leave a comment

As the dust has settled in my daily schedule since my oldest child left for college, I have had a few blocks of time open up for other pursuits.  One of those pursuits has been to take the time to reflect on the experience of homeschooling for 13 years.  It’s been a strange sensation to actually have time to think about the big picture, since for the past several years it’s been one foot in front of the other just getting things done.  I have planned ahead, but it’s been to look toward college admissions tests, accommodations for students with disabilities, which math curriculum to use for pre-algebra for my next student, having a master plan for us to keep having home cooked meals on the table, and the like.

It wasn’t the kind of planning or review that evaluated what was happening and came up with an opinion about how it was going; it was management.  This doesn’t mean I blindly went forward not realizing there were other options out there.   I had evaluated that so many times, I haven’t needed to do so for probably the past four years.

Now that I have a bit more room to breathe, I’m enjoying it.  It’s good to have an evening where I don’t have to complete paperwork.  Same for Greg, I think he’s enjoying not being the biology or chemistry teacher on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights.

So if I hadn’t been homeschooling, it’s logical to assume I would have had a few more nights without paperwork and Greg a few more nights without teaching.  I would have had more time to scrapbook, maybe do some needlepoint.  I could have worked, could have written that novel, could have spent more time researching my health and maybe gotten better faster.

Of course, there’s the basic, wouldn’t have had to plan, research, teach, grade, tutor and keep records.

I could have maybe “taken better care of myself” — maybe I would have gotten more sleep and more exercise and had less stress.

I know!  I definitely would have had more time to make friends and spend time with friends so I could keep friends.  And that’s really important to me.  I wouldn’t have been with the kids all during the week, desperately needing those Mom’s nights out.

I’m sure there have been negative things I have avoided since the kids were home, but since we aren’t told what would have happened, no point in gazing down that road.

Point is I definitely missed some things the past 13 years.  And looking at the above list, yes, it does look really good. Better than I thought it would when I started this entry.

So that’s what I did miss — now on to what I didn’t miss.

If I hadn’t spent the last thirteen years homeschooling, I would have missed the great friendships we formed with other families and the camaraderie we enjoyed at our first un-schooling co-op.  I can’t imagine that.

We would have missed the friends we made through the similar, warm, friendly and small co-op who brightened up our days when we needed to move to this area seven years ago.

We would have missed being outside at our home at all hours of the day, not just weekends and evenings.

I would have missed the stories and scientific articles that Zach has been writing for the past 12 years or so (the ones I used to type for him, and the ones he wrote/typed later on his own) because with the rest of his homework he wouldn’t have had the time to do that.

I would have missed our annual trip to the Newport Aquarium.  We go every winter, on a weekday when it’s not crowded, when they run their “buy 1 adult ticket, get two kids’ tickets free” special.  We love that trip; we never get tired of checking out the frogs, jellyfish and other wonders there.  It’s been just our family sometimes, others we’ve met friends there.

I would have missed teaching Helena to read and learning how to teach someone to read.  I would have missed watching Zach and Beren teach themselves to read by poring over Calvin and Hobbes comic books.

I would have missed starting the school day in pajamas if needed.  I would have missed the benefits of having a snow day without missing a school day: hot chocolate after sledding, before starting school.

I wouldn’t have been able to take school in a bag wherever we needed to go, wouldn’t have had the flexibility to visit grandparents or get to appointments without kids missing assignments and events at school.

I would have missed traveling to the southwest in September when school was in session.  It wasn’t nearly as hot nor as crowded and what an experience.  Every one of those days qualified as a memorable field trip.

I would have missed seeing Zach develop into an entomologist, Helena into an artist and writer, and Beren into…well not sure yet exactly where he’s going but into an engineering “what happens if” kind of guy.  Because we have homeschooled, they have had more time to pursue their interests and gifts from the beginning.

I suppose I could go on, but I’m looking for a way to wrap this up.  What is the crowning thing I would have missed?  The time spent together.  Pretty obvious really but worth saying.  18,200 hours that I would not have had with Zach, Helena and Beren.  That’s a rough estimate based on school days per year and about eight hours per day they would have been gone.

Now, what I definitely am missing is Zach.

But given that I spent the last 18 years with him, that’s hardly surprising.  Something worth having is worth missing.

I would not trade it for the world.

Zach went to college last Saturday   Leave a comment

And when I stay busy I don’t feel it too much, but every time I slow down I start feeling a bit restless and at loose ends.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m glad he’s there.  He’s taken the next step into the future. He’s doing what he wants to do, and I want him to do what he seems to have been made to do.  This is part of his plan to become an entomologist (although as Greg says, he already is an entomologist, he just needs a degree to prove it). But it just feels a bit strange to be here at home day after day, and for the first time in 18 years, not have him here.

We took him to Ohio State last Saturday, went through their amazingly well-organized move-in process, and got him unpacked and the computer working within a couple of hours of our arrival on campus.  He met his roommates, we found the nearest cafeteria, and were happy to find out that the food is more than decent.  It’s actually quite good!

We did a few other things to help out, such as walking his route to his classes with him on campus, going to the bookstore to pick up orders for two of his classes, getting the bike lock working.  We took the bus south to church on Sunday to walk through how that would work, only to have it not work when the driver ran into a car that stopped in the middle of a right hand turn.  The bus driver became hysterical and we tried to help reassure her, before we set off on down High street, walking, knowing that another bus was not going to come by for half an hour.

So that didn’t turn out how we had planned, but one thing I observed was that Zach stepped up and checked with the people in the car to see if they were all right.  There were a bunch of other students on the bus, but they all stood around talking with each other.  It was Zach and a few adults who addressed the situation.  I was proud of him and glad to see him do what needed to be done.  That actually helped me.  He faced something that didn’t work as planned and stayed cool.

Late Sunday afternoon, after we escaped from a Columbus parking garage that didn’t want to let us go, we went back to his dorm and hugged him goodbye in the lobby, leaving with those final words of advice.  I had thought, all through this process of college exam testing, applications and admissions, that when the moment finally came I would probably just have one good long meltdown in the car as we went home.

That didn’t actually happen, as I was both relieved to be heading home since I was really tired from all the work and walking of the weekend, and confident that we are leaving him in good hands.  The staff and faculty at OSU have already shown a great interest in getting new students acclimated and comfortable.  And as for Zach, he’s in his own capable hands.  He has really matured a great deal in the past couple of years.

Still, for me there are some realizations I’m working through this past week.

He’s the one responsible for his actions and choices and ultimately how his future plays out.  I can’t teach, do, or help now except to be praying.

And, this change for me is both good and bad.  I’m launching a child, a friend, a student I’ve taught for the past 13 years, and hey, I guess I feel like it’s safe to say that I’m doing it “successfully”.  After all he’s going to Ohio State on scholarships, and this is the school that had President Obama as its commencement speaker last spring, so whaddya want?  I’m thrilled that he is moving forward.

But I’m also baffled at the speed at which the last three years flowed over us and baffled that my child has grown up.  I just, truly, don’t comprehend this, can’t yet wrap my mind around it totally, how he’s grown and my life will now be different.

I haven’t freaked out or cried for hours or anything like that.  I miss him most at work and transition points at home when, just two weeks ago, he would have been in my mix.  Going to church without him in the car.  Leaving the house early yesterday and remembering driving him first thing these summer mornings to volunteer.  Washing his towel and putting it away in the cabinet instead of hanging it back up.  Getting up every morning and looking into his empty, clean room.  Those little, goofy points at which it is clear that he’s not home.

So we’ll see how it goes for us, as we adjust here, and as he adjusts there.  I know one thing’s for sure – I’m really looking forward to Thanksgiving this year!

Posted August 25, 2013 by swanatbagend in Uncategorized

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