I look at my calendar for the month to plan the weeks ahead. It’s filled with doctor appointments and social events, family gatherings, and deadlines for this and that. But there’s one day that is circled with my college kid’s name written in all caps. THIS is the day my baby will be coming home from college and every time I think about it, it catches my breath.
No matter how far away our college kids are or when they last came home, it’s safe to say most moms are anxiously waiting to hold their babies in their arms again. Our college kids are getting older and more independent while they are building a new life away from us. But there will always be a void they left behind in our family and we can’t wait for it to be filled, if only temporarily. And the countdown is on as we excitedly await their return!
Here are five things moms might be doing before their college kid comes home.
We are clearing our calendars so we can spend every moment we have with our college kids.
We’ll cancel plans and rearrange our schedules to be available because every minute counts when our college kid is home. They might have plans to reconnect with their friends and do their own thing, which we expect and understand. But no matter how busy they might be, we want to be around to catch every moment with them that we can.
We’ll get to see their tired eyes as they come down for breakfast in the morning and we’ll greet them as they come in and out of the door. We’ll hear their voices and see their faces as they roam our home and we will soak in their presence as much as possible. We’ll be available for any late-night talks or random last-minute plans to grab something to eat. We’ll cook and clean and cater to them like they are royalty because they’ve been doing so many things on their own and when they’re back with us, we simply want to do as much as we can for them.
We will be making a list of all the things we want to do with our kids.
While we know our kids will have their own personal agenda that may not always include us, we are hopeful to spend time together too. We will dream up plans for family game nights or movie nights and fun outings for us to do. We’ll also hope for special dates to have quality time with our college kid alone, like going shopping or out for ice cream or doing a donut run together in the morning. Our list will be long and realistically we know we might not get to them all. But we hope our kids will be just as excited as we are to have some special time together.
I’ve learned that whatever plans we might have in place could easily be pushed down the priority list. So, although we might have a great schedule full of fun activities for us to do, we need to first find out what our college kid has arranged for themselves during their limited time at home. This can be hard because moms want our big kids all to themselves as much as they possibly can. But our kids have grown and we need to honor their choices and sometimes that comes with some painful disappointments. They love us but they have a lot of other areas in their lives that are also important to them.
We will be preparing our hearts for accepting and embracing this new kid we will be meeting.
Our college kids have changed in ways we may or may not know. Phone conversations and facetime help us understand how they may have matured. But sometimes we will learn a lot more about our kids when they come back home and are under our roof to live for a few days or more. And we might be surprised to discover new things about them that can throw us off and shift our expectations. We could also notice some behavior that makes us question their ability to be independent, but we must remember everyone regresses when they come back home.
Our kids are changing constantly during this season, so they may display different ways of communicating, or they have added new layers to their personalities, or they have developed some interesting habits. We must adapt quickly and meet our kids where they’re at, instead of expecting the same kid that left home months ago. This can be hard and confusing, so navigating these new changes to our college kid’s lifestyle or identity will take some flexibility and gracious acceptance, and maybe some counseling too.
We will be cleaning the house and organizing everything to make our home welcoming.
At some point, we will start frantically cleaning the house, even though our kids will hardly notice and could probably care less. But we want our home to look warm and inviting, comfortable and welcoming when our kid comes through the door. This becomes an important priority when our kids get older and they are living somewhere else. Although they have a new home that they can call their own, whether in their dorm or apartment, we want them to always love their family home and where they came from.
So we might buy a few special things to put up in their room or hang on the door or place on the kitchen table that makes them feel special. We’ll clean their bedroom that’s been dormant and vacant, dusting barren shelves and moving some random things we threw in there for storage. We’ll change the bedding and fluff the pillows and arrange everything perfectly in place, then stand at the door and look at the room all ready for our baby to be back in that bed.
We will be shopping for their favorite foods and making their favorite meals.
If we haven’t asked our college kids what they might want to eat when they get home, we already know their favorite home-cooked meals and will happily make them. This will be the most fun we’ve had at the grocery store in a long time. With our list of all the ingredients for each recipe we’ll make for them in hand, we’ll cruise the aisles with eager excitement, picking up extra snacks and treats, and drinks for them too. We might go a little crazy and overspend and possibly buy more than they could eat during their stay. But right now we don’t care because our BABY’S COMING HOME so we will buy ALLTHETHINGS!
And as we get closer to the day that our college kid returns, we’ll start organizing our pantry and preparing our recipes. We’ll make sure we have some of their favorite snacks ready to eat or their favorite meal served within minutes of their return. They will be famished after traveling and probably exhausted, so we can’t wait to cater to their every need upon their arrival.
Whether we are waiting for our college kid to pull in after a long drive home or we’re idling in the car at the airport waiting for their flight to land, the anticipation might bring us to tears as we eagerly wait to hold our baby again.
Our college kids are growing up rapidly, changing constantly, and evolving into who they want to be. And we get to witness all the details emerge through each stage and season of their lives. We have the great privilege of knowing their past, and the incredible gift of watching their future unfold while we love them fiercely through it all. We will enjoy and embrace every moment we can while allowing our big kids to teach us how to parent them now until they leave again.