It is hard to believe my Son’s first semester of college is now behind me. Those first couple weeks my heart ached. I missed him immensely.
As a single Mom with only one child, when that child heads off to college, your empty-nest becomes salt in the wound of being alone.
I reminisced longingly at all of the highlights of his Senior year. And for that matter all of high school.
With time though I settled into my new norm and even embraced the opportunity to re-discover the me that got lost while raising my Son.
Don’t get me wrong, I looked forward to every visit home he made, and was thrilled when we started to have weekly phone conversations. Something I certainly didn’t expect from a teenage boy.
So, I could hardly wait for Winter Break. He would be home for five weeks. And with how wonderful all his other breaks went, I thought for sure him and I were heading into a whole new dynamic between parent and child.
I was however in for a rude awakening, and a reminder that change does not come quickly or easily.
The longer my Son was home, the more we started falling back into behavior that didn’t work before he left for college.
Behavior that triggered many posts on my “Waking the Walker” blog site.
This was not good for either of us.
All my rose-colored delusions of who we were becoming quickly began to cloud over.
The weeks before, during and after Christmas went pretty well. There was so much extra stuff to do or going on that we were oblivious to how we related to each other. Plus it was the holidays and everything is far from normal at that time.
Had my Son been able to get a seasonal job during break I believe things would have played out differently. Unfortunately this did not pan out so that left my Son with a lot of free time on his hands.
Of course, he was just fine with that. Me on the other hand was not. I know what my Son’s go to is when he has down time, his computer and gaming.
Now I don’t deny him do-nothing time. Particularly after the stressed out last two weeks before Winter Break: excessive essays to complete and finals, plus a rude and inconsiderate roommate impacting his sleep.
I get it, after that anyone would just want to veg out and do as little as possible.
In addition, he ended up with a massive head cold so he truly needed to just lie around for a few days.
But, as we headed into the first full week of January, with two more to follow, coming home from work and finding my son glued to his computer gaming with friends it was hard for me to not get testy.
This is what really reared up the “behavior that didn’t work” while he was in high school.
I tend to be a bit of taskmaster, even with myself, so it’s no wonder we would clash over what I considered wasted time. Or should I say excessive wasted time.
In addition, I feared the advancements my Son made at college in regards to balancing his schedule between work and playtime may be over-ridden by lack of structure for five weeks.
To try to balance the scales, I bartered a deal in which he had tasks to complete while home, and in-turn I would pay for a smart TV for him to take back to college.
If the tasks were not completed by the time break was over, he would have to pay for the TV. I hoped it would be enough motivation to get him away from the computer for at least a few hours a day.
The deal worked to a point. Tasks were performed, even if they dragged on longer than they should have. And I had to give him reminders, BUT bottom line, they were completed.
I did still come home to find him on his computer gaming with friends, but had to hold my tongue because he wasn’t doing it all day.
The real battle then became about him not showing up for dinner on time.
This is an old issue, which I dealt with all through high school, one that never got resolved. And one I need to accept may never get resolved.
As the end of break drew to a close, I worked hard on surrendering. Accepting the fact that only my Son can resolve this issue. Nothing I say or do will make a difference.
At the core of why this gets to me the most is because I feel unappreciated and disrespected. I work all day, come home tired and still make a home-cooked meal. The least my Son could do is come to the table before his food is cold and I’m almost done eating.
Trust me I used the guilt card and even compared him to his rude roommate, but it had minimal impact on the outcome.
So, in order for our dynamics to change, I have to change how I react to this.
This most certainly won’t be easy, but I know it will make for a more harmonious atmosphere when my Son is home. Which is ultimately all I want.
I also need to acknowledge that for all intensive purposes, my Son is a young adult and while on his own his first semester at college, he not only held his own, but made Deans Lists, and dealt with a challenging roommate.
This is a huge step in his maturity and one I need to keep in mind when working on changing how I react to behavior that generally triggers a fight.
I also need to remember that with maturity my Son will see my side of this battle and show up for dinner on time, maybe even early.
So, with my Son back at college and my nest very empty again, I’ve had time to ponder all that transpired on the Winter Break I so longed for.
In so doing I realized it would probably be a good idea to examine other areas of my life to see if how I react is no longer effective. Evaluating thought processes and behavior that may be outdated will surely open the door to discovery.
Will this be easy? Absolutely not, admitting you need to change is never easy, but it is essential to growth.
As they say “Change your thoughts and change your life.”
Believe me, this was by no means an epiphany, but timely in regards to my road to rediscovering myself.
A road I hope you will travel with me.
Check back next month to see what windy road of emotional exploration February has in store.
© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Woman, 2019. All rights reserved.
Goddess Masthead © Pamela Danko-Stout and Waking the Woman, 2019. All rights reserved.
Surrender – Mike Monahan
College Student – Lorelyn Medina
Change – Inara Prusakova