“What goes into potato leek soup besides potatoes and leeks?”
“And chicken stock,” he adds.
Okay then. He’s arrived.
“Did I wake you?” he asks.
I glance at the clock. It’s early. I had tried to stay awake through the night until his call, but I’d fallen asleep despite my best efforts. It’s afternoon on the other side of the Atlantic.
And apparently, he’s hungry.
It’s okay,” I say, noting that his voice is buzzing with energy even after 20 hours of travel.
Exit the Parent’s Home
It was hard when my firstborn left home for college and harder still when I deposited his brother some five months ago, hundreds of miles away. I boarded a plane to fly home, admittedly forlorn, and paralyzed at the thought of empty nest.
Both my sons have taken their independence, exactly as I had hoped for them.
And I was just beginning to rediscover my own.
These past weeks of Winter Break? At times it seemed as though I was beyond any capacity for proper parenting. I was losing my cool. I was unused to interruptions. The all-night partying? My tolerance had waned.
As for the routine responsibilities of having my children around – cooking, coordinating, friends in and out, the car keys – they were a mixed bag – both trying and wonderful.
Enter the Next Adventure
“Butter?” he asks.
“No butter,” I say. “Garlic, pepper, chopped celery. The trick is to have enough of the potatoes and leeks so the soup is nice and thick.”
“Great,” he answers, and I fumble for questions, but it’s before coffee and I’m still foggy.
“Je t’aime,” I say.
“Moi aussi,” he replies.
And hangs up.
There was so much I could have asked. So much I should have asked.
Coulda woulda shoulda.
Parents of College Students
My younger son?
He’d flown the coop as well, just a few hours earlier than his brother. He traveled from one end of the country to the other, then called to let me know he was there.
Being a parent of a college student – two college students – means trusting that you’ve taught them enough to make their way on their own. It’s knowing they’ll fall, and they’ll pick themselves up. It’s hoping they’ll come to you, for the good moments as well as the problems.
It’s taking an emotional distance from worry, because that’s the only way to survive.
Now that I’m awake, now that steaming coffee is pouring through me, now that I realize I haven’t a number at which I can reach my elder son, I wish I had asked if he’s met the program director and his room mate, if university housing is located in an interesting part of the city, what his impressions are – though I imagine that they’re good.
I focus on the vibrancy in his voice. The excitement. The confidence.
I tell myself I can send an email, but instead I decide to leave him to his new adventure, to the pleasure of his freedom and his obvious delight to be studying abroad. Just as obvious – his ability to take care of himself, and to stay in contact – on his own terms.
It was hard having my boys home for weeks. There was little privacy, too much noise, so much chaos, and expenses that beat my budget black and blue.
It was glorious having my boys home for weeks. There was little privacy, too much noise, so much chaos – and thankfully, credit cards to get me through.
I tell myself that now I can take a breath. I can return to the budget, to my list of tasks; I can control my own schedule, and I won’t have to negotiate over the use of my car!
I remind myself that I’ve done all I can, and I’m grateful for the relationship that I have with my kids. Not without its challenges, but good enough – so it seems – to call for a list of ingredients that will taste like home.