Saturday, April 28, 2012
I went to college in the town where I grew up. For five of the first six semesters, I lived at home to save money. Then during the summer before my senior year, I married my college sweetheart. We rented a little apartment just up the street from my parents’ house, and my new husband found work and patiently waited for me to complete my senior year. A few months after graduation, we moved to New Hampshire. From then on, whenever we came back home, we were just visiting. My parents’ home was no longer my home. I didn’t think too much about it at the time, but now that the shoe is on the other foot, I’ve been thinking about it a lot, especially with summer approaching. As those of you with college-age kids know, summer means you get your kids back for a while. But for the first time ever, we won’t have a full house this summer; in fact, we’ll be down to just one sweet baby bird. After college, my oldest son moved back home temporarily. So we got to have him around for a couple of extra summers. But last August he moved to an apartment. Although he lives nearby and often stops by for dinner, it’s not the same. He doesn’t live here anymore; when he stops by, he’s just visiting. My second son graduated from college last May. He came back here after graduation and spent the summer lifeguarding. He lived in an apartment down the street with his friends, but he was in and out of the house all summer long, especially at dinnertime! Last fall he moved back to Rochester, but he’s no longer a college boy. He has a real job now and rents a house with some friends. And this year when the semester ends, he won't be coming home for the summer. When he comes home, as he did this weekend, he still spreads his stuff out all over his old room and naps on the living room couch, but it’s slowly dawning on me that his real life and his real home are somewhere else. I know in my head this is the way it is supposed to be, but I’m having trouble convincing my heart. All I can do is the same thing my parents did: tell my grown-up kids they are missed and loved and make our home a place they like to visit.