I have always understood that parenting is hard … that balancing my emotions and needs with the emotions and needs of my children is complicated.
Now, as the parent of two college-aged women who have recently and somewhat abruptly returned to the “nest,” we are again encountering the need to recognize conflicting emotions.
My daughters have grown into independent, intelligent adults. They enjoy their freedom; they control their own schedules; and they thrive on the relationships and activities they’ve discovered on their college campuses.
My daughters are grieving right now. They weren’t ready to transition into this new world of remote learning. And their reentry into a long-retired family routine has been rocky at times. I get it. I understand.
At the same time, my mom instincts are in full swing. My feelings surrounding having my daughters home are complicated, but one of my emotions is relief. I feel comforted that they are nearby, that I can keep an eye on them. Accurate or not, I feel as if I’m protecting them by having them home.
We’re still navigating this new world, and I am reminding myself daily that I am entering into conversation not with the child who moved into a residence hall last August, but with an adult with a mind and a voice of her own. Using Dr. Kim Corner’s advice on caring for your mental health during uncertain times has helped as we approach this challenge with communication, good-faith effort, and compassion.
Janelle Andreini (’94) is assistant dean for student success and campus community at Nebraska Wesleyan University.