“Heather, don’t drop the throw pillows on the grass. They might get dirty.” A man wearing a tool belt disappeared behind the parked car to retrieve a rather large wooden sign that creatively captured scrolled initials hanging by a brightly colored ribbon. I watched in awe as a puffy comforter, decorative lamps, framed pictures, and a shaggy carpet were all loaded onto a waiting cart. From over her shoulder, the mother/interior designer called, “Don’t forget the sign that will hang above the Keurig coffee station.”
In my personal experience, moving your child into their college dorm varies based on gender. The week prior to returning to Wake Forest University, I had repeatedly asked Jake what needed to be done to get ready. Every single item from his Freshmen year had been thrown away, so we were working with a clean slate. I sweetly inquired if he had settled on a theme for his room, and the look on his face was a clear indication to me that he was still mulling it over.
The day before we were to depart for Winston Salem, he agreed to take a Target run. As we moved into the home furnishings section, I tried to control my racing heartbeat. “MeMe bought you a gray comforter, so do you think we should get some colored pillows to brighten up the place.” Assuming he did not hear my suggestion, I quickened my pace to catch up to him. My mental list of must haves included a rug, lighting, and surely a sign with some catchy phrase that would set the tone for his entire sophomore experience. Distracted by my musings, the fact that Jake was no longer with me had gone unnoticed. With a deep sigh, I joined him in the dull sock aisle.
After about an hour, I stood back and looked at Jake’s new dwelling. A magnetic board held the pictures of the people that mattered, lights were hanging from the window, and a lyric from one of his favorite songs was even command stripped over his bed. The realization that he could have actually brought his TV and XBOX was expressed, but other than that one regret he seemed content.
I posed next to his dimpled face and took a selfie to commemorate the moment. Later that night, I would spend hours trolling Facebook and commenting on the glorious rooms my friends had created with their daughters…maybe I would even catch an episode or two of something on HGTV to satisfy my pent up decorating angst.
Sometimes as parents we have to laugh when we really want to cry. No amount of accessorizing would cover up the truth that we would not be under the same roof for the months ahead. And yet, the relationship with my son continues to thrive. I have learned to listen to what he actually needs, rather than give what it is I think he should want. Recently, Jake was making a decision, and I jumped in eager to share my opinions. “All I need from you, Mom, is to just stand beside me no matter what I choose to do.” It can be a challenge to navigate this “in between” stage from childhood to becoming a young adult. I don’t always get a vote anymore, but I am thankful that he still desires for me to be a part of the conversation.
Sending an enormous hug to all those parents that are missing their college-aged kids. Praying our children uncover theunique gifts that will ultimately bring everlasting beauty to the world. Hang in there…Fall break is coming soon.