A few weeks ago, when all of my college kids were home for their winter breaks, one of my sons and his friends came home and knocked on the door. I opened it and gave my overly friendly greeting of “Hellooo!” in a high-pitched song voice. It’s how I always greet people I am happy to see, but for some reason, my daughters in the other room started laughing and imitating the way I said it. I thought it would end there, but that was just the beginning. Several days later I happily greeted my students at school with the same version of “hello.” As soon as I said it, in my head I could hear my daughters saying it exactly the same way, followed by giggles. I then greeted my sister and recognized I have been saying it like that for years, but just never noticed until it was pointed out to me (more often than necessary, I might add). When telling a visitor why my darling daughters were mocking my joyful tone, I gave my best performance of my greeting, and the dog started barking. It was then we realized that I say it so often when I open the door, the dog has associated my sing-song hello with company coming. Pavlov would be proud.
I actually know why I say hello with such enthusiasm and joy. It’s because I love reconnecting with familiar faces. I am especially excited when they come to my door and want to come in. I thrive on a full house with my teen and adult “kids” asking if their friends can stay for dinner or just hang out. I thoroughly enjoy the late-night laughs, eating ice cream and playing games, and the sound of the microwave opening in the middle of the night as they heat up pizza. Fulfilling my motherly duties of making their favorite meals (with vegan, no carbs, and complete junk food versions), catching up with their friends about college life, baking treats, and keeping everything cozy and inviting make my Mama-heart full.
You will never find my daughters making fun of the way I say, “good-bye.” I am not fond of good-byes, so the tone remains uneventful and as short and boring as possible. Who gets excited about a big part of the last 20 years or so returning to another state? Or a quiet house with no sounds of singing, video games or movies playing in the other room, or doors closing at 1 a.m.? Or trying to figure out how to cook for three people instead of ten? Not me. I mean, maybe it could be someday…nope, never mind…I don’t think that will ever be me.
I recently was lying in bed, thinking about how difficult it would be when my three college kids return to campus and my husband starts his work travels again and my house changes dramatically from a high energy gathering place to quiet living quarters for those of us who are left. Don’t get me wrong–I cherish every moment I have with my husband and daughter who still live at home, but it takes adjusting each time family stays for a while and then leaves. There is a void.
I have had to deal with the post-people-home-blues many times over the years, and I know I will adjust with time…and some chocolate I saved from my stocking. I talk to God a lot and pray specifically for the very people whose voices echoed through the now solitary rooms a short time ago. I know I can always count on prayer, but this year I decided to try to add something new to get me through to the next break when I can put my Mama cape on again–goals. It’s a new year, which means my goals are knocking and I plan on welcoming them with open arms. I’m going to open the door to some things I can control - my spiritual, organizational, personal, and relationship goals. “Hellloooo!” I even get to choose goals for an entire new decade! On the days when I’m especially missing my crew, I’m going to pull out my checklist and focus on checking off something–or at least making steps towards attaining one of them. When my people come back home, not only will they get a hug and hear my familiar greeting, they will also have a more satisfied and accomplished Mama giving it to them.
"I can do all things through him who strengthens me."
Philippians 4:13 ESV
Join our Facebook Group, Encouragement for Parents of College Kids (Letting Go Letting God) Be sure to get your copy of Letting Go Letting God: 30 Day Devotional for Moms of College Freshmen. I'd love to hear from you with comments, questions, and prayer requests. Jena@lettinggolettinggod.com