Sometimes you have to experience to understand. I knew as a child that my parents loved me. But I couldn’t understand that fully until I had my own children. Now, seeing the cycle repeat through Stephanie’s eyes, watching her fall in love with little Riley, I know that once again, the parent/child magic is at work.
As an adult, I knew that it was meaningful to my parents and to my inlaws when we visited. They told us so, they thanked us for coming, for making the time to be with them. For most of our marriage, we have lived many states away from both sets of parents. Visits home were at best a couple of times each year. And some years the trips back to family were supplemented with visits from our parents to us, in our home.
Now, still in the early years of our children being out of the nest, I realize more fully what a gift it is to parents to have adult children come for a visit. I can’t explain how it is different, having my kids back in our home, rather than visiting them in their homes or meeting somewhere for a vacation. Each scenario is enjoyable. But there is something unique about welcoming them back, about planning their favorite meals, about planning to spoil them a bit in the home setting. It isn’t about control or trying to turn them into children again…too late for that! But it is about recognizing that when they are “home,” there is a unique opportunity to mother, to enjoy having them under our roof again. It reminds me that our bonds, created over the years of childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood, have stood the test of time, have weathered the stages of growth, and that now, we are not only parents and children, we are friends. We call each other out of choice rather than obligation. We look for opportunities to share.
They have left the nest, but they come back to renew the connection, to reinforce the ties. We’ve done it: we successfully launched two fully functioning young people into their own lives. We let go, and now, we reap the reward of seeing their futures unfold. And next week, we’ll spend time with them here, at home, and it will be good.