My boys have done a brilliant job managing my expectations about how much time is enough time to spend together when they come home for the holidays.
I have transformed my insatiable appetite for time with the boys transitioning from a forest-eating caterpillar –to a little bird, happy for a wee crumb.
As the years have passed since they graduated college and have been out of the house … I am sincerely grateful for whatever time I get with them. That is what I have been trained to think and say and I now own it. This type of gratitude has taken some doing.
The kids have effectively clicker trained me. When I whine too much about them living far away – they change subjects leaving me hanging or they cleverly say, “Hey, we are having a good visit, is that what we are going to spend our limited time talking about?” And I know they are right and I instantly give it up.
If I ask too many questions about their plans the conversation abruptly ends, and I hear my cue…G2G “Got to Go.”
Admittedly I am slow to learn – it’s taken time to train this old dog but I’m getting it.
And so, now that my boys both live across this vast country – LA and Seattle to be exact – a long, long plane ride away from their east coast family home– I have learned quite a bit about how to make the most of their coming home — it’s a whole new game. And as with every new game, it comes with its own set of rules.
So here’s how the Home For The Holidays Game is played:
- Friend Pruning. Mom must leave calendar wide open the entire kid visiting period. Put social life on hold for days or weeks depending how long kids come to visit. Must be kid ready and available at all times.
- Binge Mama Binge. Cue up the Netflix in case kid skips dinner with friends or gets home before 2 am. You will have a sighting if you can remain awake. (collect a crumb).
- Appropriate Voyeurism. Quick peeks into kids’ bedrooms can be extremely satisfying when they are cozily tucked in their bed. (receive a crumb).
- Counter Feasting. Fill refrigerator with prepared meals that are easily heated in microwave. Watch kid eat standing up at the counter before they rush out. This can be counted as a meal with your kid. (collect 2 crumbs).
- Laundry Zen. Annoying tasks begin to take on a pleasurable aura when the kids are visiting. The hamper will be full of dirty laundry during the home visit – you can count on it. While washing and folding take big inhales and feel connected to your child. (collect half a crumb).
- Couch Drop & Stop. When you walk in the house and your kid is on the couch– drop everything…do not head to the bathroom, do not leave the room! You have just been given a handful of crumbs – but you must sit down immediately on the couch with your child to collect.
- Traffic Jam High. Driving your kid to the airport in the middle of rush hour is like getting triple bonus points. Focused alone time with no way out makes for the ideal visit. Collect a fistful of crumbs.
Two years ago my oldest son moved across the country and then last year my other boy moved out West as well. I didn’t think I could bear it – I cried when they told me they were moving – I cried when they renewed their leases — but now I’ve stopped with all that crying. I’ve had time to adjust. They have amazing career opportunities and I know it was a great move for both boys. I am so happy for them but would be lying if I told you – the distance doesn’t affect me.
We all want our kids to be independent to grow and become confident – and that’s what this moving to a new city for an opportunity is about. This does make me proud – but then on some Sundays I regress. I often find myself wishing they would just show up at my door step for some chill time. That wishing does me no good at all. It just makes me sad.
So, now I have my strategies. I enjoy my time when I can get it and the Holidays serve up an extra dose of time together.. I never realized how much holidays would mean to me, but as a Mom with kids living so far away — it is a holiday simply because they come home. And once inside the mother web — well that becomes the real prize.