WHY? Musings from a Mom of College Kids Home for the Summer
When my daughter and two sons were little I had a running list of “WHY” questions in my head that looped on auto repeat during those years.
- WHY does something in our house always stink like cheese?
- WHY can’t I pee alone?
- WHY has it become a household norm for our toddlers to be naked at the dinner table?
- WHY does a child always end up sleeping in our bed, in a horizontal position between me and his dad, forming a human letter "H"?
Then came the teenage years, and my list of WHY’s had turned into:
- WHY is asking “how was your day?” so offensive?
- WHY have you stopped talking and now only communicate in grunts, snorts, and eye rolls?
- WHY is Axe body spray a thing?
- WHY does it take you 45 minutes in the shower? (Never mind. I’d rather not know.)
Nowadays three of my kids are in (or entering into) college and young adulthood, and everyone is home for the summer.
Technically. (I rarely ever see them in person, but they certainly leave a trace.)
And I have a whole new list of WHY questions for my college-age kids that grows longer by the week:
WHY is my grocery bill sky high but everyone complains there’s nothing to eat, and no one is ever home for dinner?
WHY can you keep up with Snapchat streaks but you can’t ever respond to texts from your mother?
WHY do you rant about a messy college roommate but still leave your dirty dishes, socks, fast food cups, etc. all over the house?
WHY do you put the milk carton back in the fridge with only a tiny swallow left?
WHY has our garage become the un-parkable catch-all storage unit for piles of hauled-home dorm room stuff and gross free furniture from Craigslist you’re saving for your future off-campus housing?
WHY do you miss the dogs so much during college but now no one has time to walk/feed/groom them?
WHY do you watch Netflix on your laptop in the family room instead of using the big fancy TV?
WHY do you claim to be an adult but revert to fetal position when you have to make appointments with the banker/doctor/dentist all by yourself?
WHY is having a curfew when you’re home for the summer such a travesty?
WHY is it so easy for you to take time off your job for a camping trip with friends but not for a family event?
WHY does your new hipster beard annoy me so much?
WHY are you so deeply perplexed by the US postal system?
WHY can’t I have nice things without them becoming yours? (My makeup, my water bottle, my sunglasses, my jacket, my flip flops, my socks, my portable speaker, my razor, my special smoothie mix, my phone charger…)
WHY are you suddenly referring to your college town as “home?”
WHY do I get sappy and nostalgic when my eye catches the sight of your colorful elementary artwork creations that still plaster the walls of the laundry room?
WHY do I get fed up with you after a few weeks at the house…but still miss you like crazy when you leave again?
WHY do I sometimes still pause by your bedroom door in order to savor the sight of you sleeping in your bed?
WHY didn’t anyone ever tell me how hard this whole parenting thing is…and then how hard it is to let kids go when they grow up?
And of course...why, Dear God, WHY—after two decades—have I STILL not figured out why my house smells like stinky cheese?
Written by Kami Gilmour, mom of 5 teen and young adult kids. She's the author of a best-selling devotional book for parents of college students that offers helpful encouragement and faith-filled perspectives for surviving and thriving in this season: Release My Grip: Hope for a Parent's Heart as Kids Leave the Nest and Learn to Fly.