Both kids went off to college in August. I was kinda anxious about being an empty nester, but honestly, I was a little excited too. I mean, I hadn’t been on my own since – well, I don’t know when? But it was short-lived.
My younger kid immediately began with teary daily phone calls. It was SO NOT what I expected. I mean, I couldn’t wait to get the heck away from my parents and go to college. College meant freedom from parental nagging and I couldn’t escape fast enough from that! Did you feel the same way?
Well, apparently, I wasn’t nagging enough for him to want to get away from me. I had to coax him to stay, to try to make friends and to enjoy college life. Long phone calls and promises to come visit occasionally took up a lot of my ‘free time’ as an empty nester. I didn’t mind. He’s my kid and I want him to be happy. But I was worried. Then having talked to friends who had kids who were homesick in the beginning, I was reassured that he’d get comfortable soon enough. So I waited and then I got the call.
“Mom I’m sick and being sent home from school.” It was a shock as I’d already gotten him to go to the counseling center in hopes that they’d have more freshman who were homesick and could group them together.
But no, the kid came home with a virus, a very contagious virus that went rampant around the dorm, but he was the only lucky one to actually catch a bad case of it. A bad case that involved him having to be home for almost a week. And so he came home. He got his wish and pun intended, he was really home sick.
I’ll admit that it was nice to have someone to cook for and to take care of for a bit. We talked a lot while he was home and I thought we’d turned a corner on the homesickness. But the day I had to bring him back to school, he was a puddle of tears. What the heck? I thought I had it all under control.
But tough love Mommy knew that if I didn’t bring him back, even though he was really sad, he’d never succeed if I allowed him to stay home. And the one thing I won’t do is to enable him when I know he can do it. It was far enough into the semester that I couldn’t even transfer him if I wanted to, so we talked about how we could help him in the coming weeks. And thus began my weekly trek over the freaking bridge to visit him.
We started texting more often. He called me or we skyped when we could. I sent him cards by mail and his favorite cookies as a care package. He began to make friends, but it was slow because he’d been home. It made me feel so inadequate to watch my once happy-go-lucky kid be so sad and withdrawn. He wasn’t eating so I began to talk with him by phone when he was eating in the cafeteria alone. I give him credit. It’s hard to sit at a table alone and eat dinner when the cafeteria is bustling with kids. But he did it. I’m proud to report that he did everything that I suggested and asked him to do. In turn, I did my part and made the weekly trip, white knuckled, over the bridge to see him and to take him out for lunch.
It’s been working, little by little, and he’s making friends in class. Just the other day, he went to dinner with 3 people from his class. I was overjoyed. He acted like it wasn’t a big deal, but believe me, it was. Tonight he’s got dinner plans with the same kids – YAY!
Please do me a favor and wish him luck. There’s nothing like a homesick kid when you’re a parent (and a single parent) that tugs at your heartstrings. He wants to enjoy college and he’s trying. I just wish making friends would come a little quicker and easier. But I guess when you miss a week of school in the beginning of freshman year when everybody’s making friends, it’s hard to find a group that works for you. Because you weren’t there when the group was formed.
Did you ever have a kid who was homesick? Were you homesick? Any suggestions or advice would be helpful! Thank you!