Before Courtney even arrived home for the summer I thought a lot about the fact that she had been living on her own (well in a dorm, but you know what I mean) for nine months. This seemed significant to remember. I knew it was the window I would need to view our summer through. With that in mind, here are seven things I was intentional about as we walked through this past summer…
- First of all, I didn’t become frustrated by ALL of her stuff ALL over the living room…for days on end. (This was big for me.) Her stuff had made its way from the back of the van to the middle of the living room. Although I was literally climbing over piles, it meant she was home. On day five, I did however tell her it was time to contain the chaos in her own room.
- I didn’t expect her home for dinner every evening. I would tell her what time we were having dinner and give her the freedom to join us…or not. This seemed like a simple but important way to begin. Most nights she had dinner with us, but I was aware that she had friends, as well as a boyfriend, who may want to have dinner with her too.
- I spent time with her. I was keenly aware that this time was precious. In fact, we anticipated her not being home this summer. Courtney had applied for a co-op that was out of town and when that didn’t pan out I felt like I had received an amazing gift of time with her. So, we took walks, sat on the patio, went to dinner, sat on the couch, went for ice-cream, watched Say Yes to the Dress and more! I hugged her a lot…because I could. We spent time together so our relationship had the opportunity to continue growing in a new way. Sometimes I tucked her in after she was in bed and kissed her forehead…again because I could. I knew my days of having an opportunity to “tuck her in” were limited.
- I didn’t expect her home at a certain time. (OK, I secretly did, but I didn’t communicate this to her.) She worked full time and was pretty great about getting to bed at a reasonable hour, as well as responsible to be up and out the door on time each morning for her job. I do remember one night though; it was getting pretty late and I thought she should be home. (It’s just a mom thing) I reminded myself that when she was living in the dorm, no one was telling her it was time to come home, and I remembered that she was responsible. I sent her a text to tell her that I was going to bed and that I hoped she had a fun evening. Then I went to bed and fell asleep
- I expected her to respect us, our routine, and our time. I expected her to let us know her plans and when she would and wouldn’t be home. In turn, I respected her, her schedule and her time as well. She had a full time job and so I didn’t put her back on the chore chart for the summer (possibly to her siblings dismay), but I did ask her to help out when there was a need. Handling it like that seemed more grown-up
- I didn’t clean up after her or do her laundry. This one was a little hard on me, I like to do acts of service, but I knew if I did too much for her, I could become resentful, which would hurt our relationship.
- When she asked to invite friends over, I said yes. When her boyfriend was over, we made him feel welcome (so much so that he set the table, helped clear the table and even helped her unloaded the dishwasher one evening). Sometimes it would have been easier to say no to having friends over (I’m not talking about you Phil, you were always easy to have around), but it was always richer to say yes.
I believe the most important thing I did – which really touched every aspect of our time together – was to simply remember that she was used to living independently and that times like this were not going to happen very much longer . I wanted her to enjoy her time with us, and want more of it; I didn’t want her counting the days until she left. I wanted her memories of her summer experience (and of us) to be pleasant. I wanted my memories of the summer to be pleasant, I didn’t want to have regrets.
It is important for Courtney to know she can trust us to grow with her. She is becoming the adult we had been aiming towards for nineteen years, (this is wonderful!!) and so I find myself eager to embrace her more grown-up self. I loved when she was an teeny-tiny baby and I could hold her endlessly, I can almost feel her skin and smell her aroma. I loved it when she was a little girl and believed her daddy was strong enough to lift up a house. I even loved it when I saw her struggle for independence in those early teen years. And…I love it now. I believe the way I hold her today is just as significant as the way I held her as an infant, as she will learn much from how I embrace her.
Stop by on Monday when Courtney will share some of her thoughts on our summer!
This post is the second in a series of five. Read the first here.