Archive for the ‘Yin-Yang of college students’ category

The yin-yang of school vacation

December 15, 2010
yin yang of college students brings changes for parents and children. LEarning to roll with the developmental stages of college students and teenagers and life is a skill. Discipline and family meetings and structure are a part of getting along with college students who come home.

Kristen prepared this delicious dinner of macaroni and cheese, carrot raisin salad and a green salad. Yum.

One of the hardest parts of life and parenting is the constant development and change, and eventual growing up and leaving home by children. When parenting is hard and we have to put our own needs second, it’s hard to stay in the present moment and enjoy the age and stage of our children.

Childhood sometimes feels like it moves like a turtle, then all of a sudden, it has flown away like an eagle and the nest is empty.

When Kristen, 22, comes home from graduate school for holidays and Ian, 26, temporarily roosts here between seasons of organic farming, it feels wonderfully familiar and good. That’s the Yin.

The Yang is, “They left the kitchen dirty AGAIN! What happened to my routines and my food!?” And again after they leave, “I have way too much food in the fridge,” “I’ve gotten used to them being here. The house and my heart feel stripped, quiet and abandoned.”

The Yin-Yang of children living with us and growing up is part of the constant change of life’s seasons. Adjusting to empty nest is often under-rated in significance. It is a HUGE change.

For those of you with little ones, you have regular milestones where they don’t need you as much. Giant steps in development accumulate regularly. My mother said, “Babies need mothers less and less every day from birth forward.” Very true.

They stop nursing, start walking then start school and day care. Later on, their friends become more important and they stop talking to parents as much. Tweens and teens spend more time at school, work and with friends. The increasing separation during the high school years prepares us for the final separation.

The four to six years of revolving door to and from college is fraught with adjustment. As soon as I get used to them being here, they’re gone.

The good news is that we have some agreements on living together, will share in the cooking and cleaning, and enjoy the present moment for as long as we have it. It feels good to have family dinner together again.

The past is history         The future is a mystery

So we must celebrate the gift of the present

Empty nest is inevitable and enjoyable

July 16, 2010

This book is a reminder for all parents that some day their nest will empty. Like all Good parenting books, this book unites us with other parents and reminds us to be in the present momentI enjoyed this collection of essays “The Empty Nest” edited by Karen Stabiner because they reflect the stage of life I’m at, with my fourth and final “child” at home for what might be her last summer before starting graduate school in a few weeks.

As a young mother, the thought of an empty nest seemed far-off, improbable and something to be worried about later, tomorrow, after I made another meal, ran another load of laundry and fell into bed exhausted, surrounded by my little tribe of four.

My mother Mildred, the wise mother of nine children and 25 grandchildren, said, “Each day they will need you less.”

Mom was right. Each day is preparation for the day they will eventually leave your home. If they stay forever, that’s a problem of its own.

Celebrate the moment you’re in now with your child, wherever and whatever that is. Believe older mothers when they say, “This will pass quickly.”

Time seems to go by faster as I get older. Time passing makes clear what is really important.

Editor Karen Stabiner collected the 31 essays from outstanding writers, mostly white and upper class. Several fathers, a few single parents, parents of color and non-heterosexuals were thrown into the mix. The contributors were almost all highly educated, wealthy,  (boarding school types) successful, and well-published.

I wanted to hear from parents of lesser means, with bigger families and smaller careers who are more like me. The essays were all written by accomplished professionals. What about the full-time moms who made motherhood their lives? How did it feel to become obsolete? Why do women have to justify our existence with  a paid career?

I was grateful to be employed outside of the home by the time our four started trooping out the door. I eased the ache.

I still hate to cook alone. The silence and calm of the house feel spooky. I’ve re-learned how to work, think and love without constant interruption — which took some adjustment. Then someone comes home for an extended stay — summer vacation, spring break or occasionally, between jobs. And my life feels normal again.

I live in the yin-yang between old normal and new normal. Both are good.

No matter what, being a mother or father is THE most important thing we will do in our lives, with the longest-lasting legacy. It’s also the toughest.

Who sleeps with who over the summer

July 9, 2010

Modern parents who came of age in the 60s, 70s and 80s must have a difficult conversation with your college age students who come home for the summer … with their “significant others.” Avoid the awkwardness of waking up one morning and meeting Lauren or Meghan for the first time after they spent the night at your home.
Have a conversation in advance about your expectations. Watch the video for more. See if I blush — probably not, after four children, who are now 20-something, it takes more than a conversation about sex to embarrass me!

The Yin-Yang of winter break with 20-somethings

February 1, 2010
The yin-yang of adult children coming home for semester breaks can be an emotional roller coaster for families.

Happy to see them come, happy to see them go.

In the past 11 years I’ve ridden the see-saw of my four “children” going back and forth to college every few months. Practice does not make perfect, in this case. There is no perfect. The house is deadly quiet without them and chaotic with them.

They arrive with dirty laundry, random leftover foods, and an expectation that they’re adults. They depart with clean laundry, a few bags of groceries from my pantry, and the reminder that we can still fall into old habits.

“Kristen, would you please remove the hair from the bathtub drain?” her older brother Ian asked politely when  went into shower after her.

At the kitchen sink, I call out, “Ian, would you please remove your breakfast dishes from the sink?” Or, they sour in the bottom of the sink all day, and drain my attention.

It feels normal and wonderful to have them home. We make food, music, and fun together. Their visits re-open the daily domain of motherhood that has been periodically dormant since our youngest graduated from high school in 2006.

Empty nest is almost as good as having them home. I look forward to the start of the semester when I don’t have to cook for four or more, when Bob and I can be a selfish couple, and catch up on what was a very short phase in our relationship before they were all born within seven years.

“Do you need help?” I said to Ian as he packed to move to North Carolina.

“No. I think I have it covered,” Ian said.

“It’s hard to believe you can manage life without me,” I said, half-jokingly. The mother in me genuinely wonders how he survives each day without me. The adult in me enjoys having him off my radar, the constant blip, blip, blip of his daily existence fading out of my sight and hearing. A month was a long winter break.

I’m consoled by their independence, survival skills and financial acumen. They left home well-equipped to deal with people, school, work, money and life. I guess I did my job well enough that they don’t need me.

It hurts to think that!

And it’s a relief.

That’s the yin-yang of growing up and leaving home. Yippee and ow. Hurray and I miss you.