They’re Baaackkk……

....and then colleges send them home.....
….and then colleges send them home…..

I’m excited my college children will be home for an entire month this holiday season.  Really.  I am.  Seriously. A whole 30 plus days!  Yet, in the three short months since my youngest departed, I may need to get reacquainted with my parental skills which surprisingly left me the minute my husband and I merged on the freeway after dropping our son off at his new home for the next four years. It was like a first date! We were giddy, away from our parents, and we could go anywhere as long as we were home before curfew.  In this case, our curfew was Christmas break.

But now, as the strike of midnight is suddenly near, reality and motherhood looms.  Other than my frequent trips to BevMo, I haven’t set foot in a grocery store since, well, mid September. I haven’t made a Sloppy Joe, bought milk by the gallons nor visited the cookie aisle in all that time. Not once. In fact our refrigerator now serves as the wine cooler I’ve always wanted, chilling 38 bottles of chardonnay comfortably rather than the warehouse supply of Gatorade, pudding cups and lunch meat. While on this subject, I must admit that my  oven hasn’t reached a high temperature in months. Instead, I have discovered this particular appliance is an ideal storage unit, and today holds inside an excess of beach towels, and an unused SAT prep book. Believe me, it’s not as sad as one would think.

Okay, but back to how excited I am to see my children.  Life really hasn’t been the same since they all left.  It’s been one painful adjustment after the other. My poor washing machine now only sees a load or two of laundry once a week instead of the daily multiple uses. That mega sized detergent I purchased at the beginning of October out of habit? Yeah, I’m still using it. My dishwasher only cleans the occasional bowl used for cereal or popcorn, and yes, a wine glass  which means it’s turned on as frequently as my vacuum, which is never. I happily cancelled my Costco membership when I realized that even though my children may come home again, why encourage them to stay when you have an overfilled pantry filled with their favorites? And let’s talk about vehicles. Guess what people? When teenage drivers aren’t around, it’s amazing how clean your cars stay!  Void of fast food wrappers, empty water bottles, sports equipment and schoolbooks I must admit  my cars now look much like myself – ten years younger.

But perhaps best of all, I’m actually getting a decent night’s sleep. I no longer stay up, bleary eyed, waiting for that magical  hour when my child better return safely home so I can stumble into my bed.  Sitting up  nights in anticipation for the endless texts begging if he can stay out a little bit longer because “everyone else can,” is a distant, faded memory. I figure that’s now the college’s problem, you know, the  one I pay an incredible amount of money to each month. I rest comfortably realizing they will let me know if something is amiss.  Let me put it this way:  that whole concept I struggled with last summer, wondering about the dreaded empty nest, worrying about what I would do after raising children for 24 years, fretting that my goodbyes would result in a meltdown resembling the fetal position until the Christmas break? Well, that was a big ole waste of time.

So now plane reservations are booked, and I’m imagining what my first true, honest to goodness, face to face, textless conversation with my son will be like – all 30 seconds of it – before he asks for the car keys. And that’s okay. As long as he doesn’t open the fridge looking for a healthy snack or request a home cooked meal.  With my daughter, who is returning home a week later from her final year at her teaching program, it’s a completely different story.  When you see the light at the end of the college tuition tunnel for a child, you almost find yourself doing the ugly cry when they talk about job opportunities, polishing up resumes and considering job interview attire. In other words, you are excited to hear what they have to say because you realize at some point, the conversation isn’t about money.

Yet I imagine that in the middle of their month long visit, I may like having them around again. I’m wondering if I will go back to the dark side and ponder what I am going to do without them after they leave. Then I will glance at my refrigerator, which during the break, will be back to storing copious amounts of Gatorade, pudding cups and lunch meat, while listening to the hum of my washing machine in the background, and wondering  what kid has what car and how much gas they left me.



I Went to College for This?

One of the prerequisites for any mother during the summer months is the intimate relationship we rekindle with our laundry room. As Chief of Laundry in our household, I have always known that the dirty and the not-so-dirty-in-fact-really-clean-but-it’s-easier-to-throw-in-the-basket-than-re-hang-in-closet laundry increases ten-fold during the summer months. My biggest enemy would be the towels that seem to breed faster than Michelle Duggar’s uterus. I have been known on a few occasions to tell my children that unless they have been mud wrestling, it is okay to use a bath towel more than once. Honestly, I don’t care if they use toilet paper to dry themselves, just give me a break with the towels. Between beach towels, bath towels, hand towels, wash cloths, kitchen towels and dust towels, I am done.

My son sees no problem with wearing the same shirt day after day, but apparently he requires a new towel after every shower. What I find particularly offensive is that, according to the manufacture instructions, I am not washing them properly by simply adding my basic detergent and a fabric softener. For example, I found these instructions with my latest towel purchase.

Before you use a newly-purchased bath towel, wash it in warm water with laundry detergent to remove any sizing or fabric coating that may be on the fibers from manufacturing. Without doing this first, the new towel will not be effective in absorbing the moisture from your body. When you do this first washing, add about quarter of a cup of Epsom salt or table salt to the wash cycle. This not only helps remove the coating, but will help set the color of the towel.  Add 1/2 cup of baking soda, along with your detergent, to the wash cycle to keep your towels smelling fresh. To keep towels soft, add a 1 cup of white vinegar to the final rinse cycle. Do not add fabric softener to the wash cycle. Don’t wash your towels with other laundry items; if you must, be sure to wash similar colored items together.

Are you kidding me?  My kids are lucky that I even rip the price tag off the towels before I throw them in their bathroom.  If I followed their instructions of proper towel washing it would mean that I spent more time and more ingredients washing bath towels than cooking their dinner.  Can you believe that at one time women were beating their laundry over a rock?  And now towel manufacturers are insisting that we nurture these lousy pieces of cotton more than we do our friendships? Listen, if I purchased expensive towels and didn’t have teenagers in the house, then I would probably follow this advice.  On second thought, I probably wouldn’t. I have more important things to do.  Like read People magazine.

Speaking of laundry.  This is an actual, true life photo of my laundry room exactly twenty-four hours ago.  My son and two of his friends had a “camp-out” in our yard.  Wonderful, fun memories for them. For me? Hearing their loud, semi-conscious cries when the automatic sprinkler went off at    5:30 a.m.  Life is good.

Soaking wet sleeping bags. Courtesy of automatic sprinklers.