I saw an article about helicopter parenting the other day, and in it, among many other things, the writer bemoans the parent who allows her college-aged child to come home to have his laundry done by his mother. I won’t link it here because well, I do that, and I have absolutely no problem with it. Here’s why.
I can’t fix anything for my son any more. I can’t, and I don’t want to. I’m helping him grow wings after all, in these years of crucial wing-growing pupation.
He’s 18 years old, a freshman in college. He doesn’t live in my house. He doesn’t ask my input about what he can and can’t do. He doesn’t call me when he’s lonely (although I did get one vaguely sad text one time) and he’s no longer a consideration in groceries we buy and/or daily plans we make. I can’t hug him before I head up to bed every night, nor can I kiss the best part of his face, the place just in the back of his left ear, whenever I feel like it.
It’s killing me. It is so, so hard.
I miss him. I miss his voice and his feet thudding down the stairs. I miss his crumbs on the kitchen counter, and his wet footprints on the bathroom mat. I miss the way he gulps the milk he has with dinner, and how he suddenly has something very important to do when it’s time to clean up the dishes.
I can’t fix the fact that he’s not particularly happy at school. I can’t fix that he hates his history and biology classes. I can’t get him a job. I can’t make his dorm wing suddenly friendly and outgoing. I can’t run upstairs and grab the bandaids, swipe some Neosporin on that sucker and call it a day. It just doesn’t work that way anymore. And it never will again.
But I can do his laundry. I can take it out of the dryer, piece by piece, every single thread of cotton bought by me, and know that there will come a day when I will have bought none of it, not one item.
So, yes, I’m that mother who gladly does the laundry when it arrives at her house – a house that’s just a little bit dimmer without my son in it. Say what you will, or think what you must. I have no plans to stop doing so.