The holidays are upon us and many of us are waiting anxiously for our college kids to barge in the front door yelling, “I’m home!”
And, for those of us who sent our first kids off to college this fall, it can feel like an eternity as we count down the days to having all of our kids and family under one roof, even if it’s just for a few days.
In the buildup to the big reunion with our college kids, moms and dads everywhere are day dreaming about the special moments we will have with our kids. Visions of cozy game nights by the fire as they detail every bit of their first few months of school dance in our heads. Or, perhaps you’ve spent weeks planning a menu that includes your daughter’s favorite meals.
And, of course, though you are anticipating ungodly amounts of laundry, you are secretly giddy to see your son’s bed rumpled and his clothes covering his floor while he’s home.
Florida based grocery store Publix released a new holiday commercial last year and it hit me in all the feels. The producers nailed exactly what it’s like to welcome our kids home and to realize in an instant that, while everyone is home together, nothing has stayed the same.
And, fair warning: you are going to need the tissues because it’s going to make you ugly cry.
However you envision your college kid’s arrival home, it’s probably not going to go as planned. Weather can delay flights home from far away colleges, stomach viruses can make holidays go south quickly and the holiday break can be just too short to cram in every single magic memory you’ve been eagerly awaiting.
In fact, you might just find yourself waving to the back of your son’s head as he grabs his keys to tumble out the door with his high school buddies to catch up. Or, you might find yourself playing second fiddle to Aunt Ramona as she monopolizes your daughter’s attention with the details of her latest colonoscopy scan.
The point is, our kids are coming home and we have a lot riding on this holiday season.
Because we miss our kids.
We miss the life they bring into our homes.
We miss their laughter.
We miss how they kid their siblings and tease their fathers.
We miss the comfort of knowing they are tucked into their beds, even if it’s well after we’ve gone to bed ourselves.
We miss being able to reach out and hug them or to read their faces when they are struggling with a life decision.
And, we miss those quiet moments when we have them all to ourselves.
Those moments that remind us of long nights rocking them to sleep when they were babies and days spent playing Candy Land when it was too cold to play in the snow.
We simply miss our babies and the holidays are a stark reminder of the thousands of tiny moments that have slipped like sand through our hands too quickly.
When our kids come home for the holidays, we want to stop time because we know how different family life looks once they’ve left the nest. They’ll always be our babies, of course, but it’s not the same as when they had footie pajamas and left cookies for Santa.
We want every detail to be just right because it’s our way of saying, “I’m so glad you are home.”
Because we are, even if we don’t love the piles of laundry that follow them in the door.
Life happens during the holiday season and it’s never more apparent than when our college kids come home a little more independent, a little wiser, and a lot more in debt.
But, just like the mom in the Publix commercial, we all know that what we are really hoping for is that moment when we realize our kids still need their mothers.
Even if we have to bribe them with homemade pie to force them to sit with us as we drink our coffee with knowing smiles.
Slow clap, Publix. Slow clap. Thank you for helping us to remember to hold onto those tiny moments with our college kids.