Christmas is packed up and stuffed into the attic–even the hold-out ornaments that hid while the first boxes went up the stairs. I found them all and sent them in a left-over box.
With Christmas and New Year’s Day behind us, that means we’ve said, ‘goodbye’ and the children have returned to school again. Saying ‘goodbye’ is always hard, especially when the students don’t want to return to campus.
I read on some mothers’ forums about other students who have difficulty in leaving home again. The angst is clear in the questions, “Is it normal?”, “Should I be worried?”, “What am I supposed to say?”
I say, it is absolutely normal. I remember the melancholy I felt on Sunday afternoons when I faced an hour-and-fifteen-minute drive back to my university. Why would I want to leave my wall-to-wall carpeted bedroom with a color TV and a Princess phone to return to a shared, painted cinder block cubicle?
I think about my children who enjoy learning, make friends easily, and mostly make good grades. All of them struggle or have struggled with returning to school after a break. Why wouldn’t they? During breaks, they play games, stay up late, watch movies, play cards, eat snacks (at Christmas we had seventeen different kinds of home-made cookies at the ready), and eat all their favorite meals requested for me to cook. Of course they want to stay.
Why would they want to go back to eating cafeteria food, living with people who may or may not have the same interests or tastes or beliefs? Why would they want to go back with papers to write and tests to study for?
Of course they don’t want to go back, and of course it’s the parent’s job to say, “Go back. You’ll be fine. Nothing is happening here. Spring break will be here in a few weeks.”
And it’s the parent’s job to call and send texts and emails and cards to encourage them, pack goodie boxes to send them, pray for strength and courage to walk on the path God has laid out for them–and for the parents, too.
Nudging them out of the nest isn’t easy or fun. I hate it because I’d love to have them here all the time giggling, playing the piano, shooting Nerf guns, and grabbing me with surprise hugs. I don’t like my empty nest, but it’s part of hard work and the natural order of parenting.