April has arrived and we have many reasons to celebrate. The winter chill is fading and the days are getting longer. April appeared and with it came April Fool’s Day, Easter and Autism Awareness Month. For me, as a parent, April brought the beginning of the end of my son’s first year of college. As the weeks start to wind down, the reality of him coming home for approximately four months is starting to set in. Because he chose a college more than a few miles away, he has not been able to travel home as frequently as I would have liked. However, he was home for the Thanksgiving/Christmas Break and during that four week period, every member of our household realized how much had changed in a short period of time. As parents, we want out children to stay kids. While they stay our children for eternity, they can’t remain kids forever.
One of the first things we noticed during the Winter Break is that our son had outgrown us and our antics. He didn’t want to play games/cards with us, he didn’t want to go to the Sno Cone Hut and he was not trying to watch TV as a family. It didn’t take long for us to realize he had become accustomed to his independence and was ready to head back down the road.
As we prepare for an even longer stay, there are things I’ve had to learn as a parent and things he will have to adjust to as a young adult. For starters, if he’s not home, we don’t ask his whereabouts, we just ask if he’s okay. More than likely he will tell us where he is or where he’s going, but he has that option. Because he’s outgrown most of his high school friends, his trips include the drive thru for food and the grocery store. Regardless, our only question is, “Are you okay?” We have to trust that he’s going to make responsible decisions.
The second thing I’ve learned or had to reprogram myself to do is close the door. Every person in the household needs some level of privacy. Everybody has been in their own space ad we all had to adjust to respecting the personal space of each other. Immediately after my son packed his last bag in the trunk, we stopped closing doors. Imagine walking in and seeing your mom bare. In his mind, the door should have been closed unless I was clothed. And, I concur.
Accountability and responsibility is a must. I’ve always shared with my son he could not sit around the house all summer and do nothing. For years our summers were consumed with basketball and track. This summer he has to get a job. I don’t think it’s acceptable to have a young man sitting around the house all day without responsibilities. I have sheltered him from the storm in the past but it’s time for him to go out and earn his own coins so he can better learn to appreciate ours. Not that he takes things for granted, but you spend your own money differently.
Without putting too much pressure on him, he’s going to once again be tasked with household chores. He did NOTHING during the Winter Break and I found myself constantly fussing about the dishes in the sink overnight (that were placed there after the kitchen was cleaned) or the excessive pile of laundry. We gave him a break but you must maintain your space and be mindful of the fact that we like a clean house. If he were in his own space, he would clean his house. So, since this is his temporary living arrangement, he has to help with the maintenance.
For those momma’s that have watched their babies leave and then return home, what were some of the adjustments you had to make? How did you cope?