My college freshman is coming home for the weekend and I am giddy with excitement. I have to say it is another unexpected surprise in this whole parenting journey. Of course I knew when he went off to school I would feel anxious and worried and sad. Dropping him off was all of that in epic form. But what I didn’t think about was how much I would miss him, and the level of excitement and anticipation I would have for his return trips home. Crazy as it seems, I can’t wait to lay my eyes on that big basket of laundry and his crooked grin as he lugs it in the back door. I didn’t do his laundry all through high school, but now it’s like the joy of my weekend.
The moment he walks in, the whole house exhales and inhales differently. The routine shifts to another normal we put to the back burner when he’s away. For all of us, his coming home is a huge relief and also a connection to something big and powerful that quite frankly I didn’t really know about until now. What I realize is that this is what we’ve been building all the years of his life. This big self powered energy force is the sum of all the parts we have been gathering and squirreling away since he arrived on this planet. The reward, really, the ROI for so many sacrifices, bandaids, tears both of both joy and sadness, of his growing up years, is in the end, the gift of this huge invisible force we all built together but never recognized until now.
And as I take a closer look at this project we all had a hand in creating but never really understood, I see a few things much more clearly. The view from here affords some retrospective advice I would give to my younger self, beginning with laundry. No one cared when we lived out of piles of laundry sometimes still in the laundry room. And it didn’t matter that my teenagers lived out of annoying piles of clothing in their rooms. Clean clothes is sometimes enough.
The pounds I gained eating what they ate and then resenting it was a major waste of time and energy. The macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets were not a problem. They were the solution, they led to us eating together, as often as we could, even if it was breakfast. That food and that time over the years became our foundation of our family. And now, cooking all his favorite foods for his return trip home, not much has changed really, but I sure don’t feel bad about eating what he’s eating, even if it’s packed with calories, it’s also packed with love.
I would tell myself that doing your best is good enough. The self doubt, and comparison to others only hurt me, it certainly didn’t help my sons. My gut was actually pretty accurate it turns out.
I would let my younger self know that we aren’t headed to a destination. For years, I thought that where I’m at today was the destination. It’s not. When the kids were little I thought all the time about how they would be as young men, and that all my teaching, and guiding, and advising was leading to a point where I would brush my hands together and say, “There, job well done.” Where I’m at today is a bend in the road and around this corner is just a new road.
I realize now, in this moment doing laundry, that what I really wish I could tell my young mom self is this: it is all worth it. All the times I asked myself if it was truly making a difference, it was. The nights of no sleep, worth it. The 100th time playing Candy Land, worth it. Reading an extra book at bedtime, worth it. Allowing wrestling in the living room even though I didn’t allow wresting in the living room, worth it. Crying when life wasn’t fair, worth it. Forcing everyone to jump around and celebrate because “mom said so”, worth it. Unwittingly building a foundational family energy that has the power to re-charge any of us simply by having all the parts together, worth it.
Pam Tauscher Coshun is a mom both at home and at work. She draws on her life experience as mom of two boys to produce and moderate the MomsEveryday show, a television program made by moms, for moms. You can see the show or read Pam’s blogs at MomsEveryday.com. Pam also loves gardening, cooking and hair, lots and lots of hair, since she currently has two dogs and a cat and has adopted may others. Pam is always looking to share ways to make Moms life easier at MomsEveryday.com, on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.
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