Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Transition From College to Home

My daughter Melissa ended her freshman year at American University looking forward to a 12-day trip to Israel, followed by two part-time summer internships that promised to give her great experience...and a some spending money to boot!

Only one problem left to tackle.

Work clothes.

My jeans-wearing college student needed work clothes.

I promised to take her to the mall, but that thing called life kept getting in the way. As the first day of her summer employment crept ever closer, prime dress shopping hours grew scarce. And so it was that I found myself at 5 pm on a Sunday evening in a department store dressing room, complimenting my offspring on a lovely black and white checkered dress and matching blazer.

She agreed with my thoughts on the dress, but something about the blazer didn't capture that "fits just right" feeling. I turned to walk out of the dressing room to scout out additional blazer options, when the familiar sound of my cell brought me to a a halt.

"YOU NEED TO COME HOME RIGHT NOW!" came my husband Bob's panicked voice at the other end of the line.

My poor hubby had borne witness to the first disaster to strike our new home, which we had only occupied for a mere seven months. Seems the water heater, located in the second floor laundry room, decided to spring a leak. Two inches of water covered the laundry room floor, but even worse, Bob watched in horror as the unstoppable drip drip drip came through the ceiling and spread out onto our dining room carpet.

When Melissa and I cautiously walked into the house 15 minutes later, I expected to be greeting by a raving maniac because - suffice it to say - Bob and home repairs don't go well together. But my man surprised me. Instead of scoring a "10" on the lunatic scale, I gauged his mood at a manageable "5".

Fortunately, he had the good sense to shut off the water supply to the house, thus stopping the drip drip drip from disolving to disaster, but leaving us without the ability to shower.

He had called a plumber with 24/7 availability, who promised to arrive sometime in the overnight hours. Melissa and I, in the meantime, were consumed by more pressing matters. What if the plumber came but couldn't fix the problem. Or worse, what if the plumber never showed up? The thought of going to work without showering or (egads) washing our hair was simply preposterous. Especially on my baby's first day of her internship!

Not wanting to impose on anyone, I made a quick reservation at a local hotel. Melissa and I packed our bags and off we went, leaving my poor Bob at home to wait....and wait....and wait...for the plumber to arrive.

Despite the unfortunate events of the evening, during the drive to the hotel I felt a level of calm and comfort in the company of my daughter. She had left for college last September as a sheltered teen, and had come home in May as an independent young woman. Still my child but yet, a stranger.

While I had counted the days until her freshman year ended, I must admit, Bob and I had carved out a comfortable routine without her daily presence. As for Melissa, transitioning from dorm living to the quiet of home came with its challenges.

The homecoming honeymoon gave way to awkward mood swings, angry outbursts, and yes, a few tears.

We were forced to adjust.

And some time between her return from college and the night of the broken water heater....adjust we did.

Without realizing it, I had stopped trying to remember how to act around my daughter. In fact, during our stay in the local hotel, things seemed, well, normal.We talked about college. We talked about friends. We talked about work. We talked about boys.

We talked and laughed and talked some more. Just like it had been before college took her away. When long evenings were spent sitting on my bed, discussing the details of her high school days. Evenings where I clung to every word she said, so grateful that my grown up teen still wanted her mommy in her life. Evenings that I thought - or feared - would be relegated to a distant memory of her pre-college years.

Until the night in the hotel.

The next day, with a new water heater installed, we all returned to our routine. Our wonderful, usual, normal routine.

But I know that it won't last for long.

In two months' time we'll be forced to say goodbye yet again as she returns to dorm life three hours away in Washington, DC. But for now, I treasure each day with her home, and give thanks to our pesky water heater for helping us get back to normal.



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