17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

From the Tales Inbox: There's No Place like...College?

As my first semester of college away from home neared its end and I began to pack my things for the long trek back home, I remembered the words of my parents before I left: "Oh, you will be so excited and so ready to come home for the summer." As I evaluated my feelings, I realized I felt just the opposite. I was so UNexcited and so UNready to come home for an over four month summer break. Being the oldest child, along with waiting an extra six months after I graduated from high school to go to college, I was fully ready to embrace life away from home when the time came. When I moved out, I emotionally closed that childhood chapter of my life up, FOR GOOD.

So when I came home with the "this summer is going to suck and I don't want to be here" attitude, it startled everyone. I don't think anyone really knew what to expect or how to act when I came home to begin with, but I don't think anyone expected me to feel that way, especially since I did have a challenging first semester. Quickly, my parents had had enough and told me I needed to pull my act together and reminded me I was still a member of the family. So I really tried. I tried to spend one on one time with each member of my family, I got a really good job and I tried not to fuss. Everything was working out okay until last week....

I gound myself sitting in my room just thinking about my situation and despite my efforts, I was feeling that I had failed my family. I didn't understand why I didn't want to be home. My life was good here and even easier than my life at college. I was also feeling unappreciated. Even though I had tried to reach out to my family members, no one had really stopped to say thank you or even comment that I was missed. My sister noted to me that her
relationship with our brother was a lot better when I was gone. Was that supposed to make me feel good? Plus, after being away from home for four months, my family seemed to have their own jokes and stories
that I was no longer apart of. On top of already feeling like an outsider, everyone forgot my birthday in June.

As I sat there with tears dripping down my face, I realized what a pathetic and selfish sob case I was creating for myself. I looked in my calendar for hope, but only found that I still had six more weeks of summer left. I decided
right then and there that I couldn't live like this anymore and that I needed some outside help, hence why I'm writing this blog. (I know I'm not a mom, but I am a constant lurker here).

At this age I realize that I am very self-centered, confused, and pretty much in limbo between being dependant on my parents and independent. It's a hard stage in life and I realize that it's not going to be easy no matter how hard I try. I realize that I am not a perfect child but I also realize that my parents are not perfect either. With that said, I'm ready to hear from the Tales from the Crib women. You always seems to have good advice and I could use some of your perspective here.

What can I do to strengthen my family relationships while I'm at home and also while I'm away at school? I don't want my relationship with my family to crumble just because I moved away and am no longer a part of their daily lives. Is it okay for me to voice my needs to my family? How do I do that without being disrespectful to my parents? What did you do with your summers? Sometimes I feel like I have no options because of my and my families financial contraints.

I know many of you are probably chuckling as you recall your own life experiences, but for me this all seems so real and so consuming. I ask that you please be honest and frank. I will not take offense to anything. Take it away!

Home from School College Girl


  • You know, I ended up living with my grandparents on an opposite coast the first summer after college. I didn't do it to escape my parents, but looking back, I now realize that I would have been miserable at home--it's just too hard, I think, to go from the fun and independence of college back to MOM. I don't think this implied that I had a bad relationship with my parents, just that living together would have been hard on my fledging independence.

    So: do you have any relatives in other cities that you could live with?
    posted by Blogger Julie M. Smith at 8/01/2006 07:59:00 AM  

  • RE: feeling like an outsider
    Do you keep in touch with your family during the school year? I talked/emailed with my brothers and parents often enough that I always felt in the loop. Then when i went home for holidays/summer I knew most of the inside jokes and happenings of my family.

    I think you should definitely talk to your parents and let them know how you feel. Chances are, they don't have a clue you are feeling this way and will want to rectify the situation. Make the most of your time with your family, enjoy them, get excited about what they have been doing for the past few months. Maybe they feel like their lives pale in comparison to your adventures at college.

    Also, do you have any friends that are home for the summer? Do some fun things with your friends to give yourself a break from the fam and feel like you are back at school.

    Enjoy the rest of your summer and Happy Belated Birthday!
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 8/01/2006 08:07:00 AM  

  • This made no sense to me at all: I remembered the words of my parents before I left: "Oh, you will be so excited and so ready to come home for the summer."
    Until I read this:Being the oldest child...

    I've never known anyone to be excited to live at home for the summer. I've known people who were glad to be visiting their siblings, eating their mom's cooking and enjoying their parents nice home. But I've never known anyone who was glad to be living with their parents.
    From what your parents said, I would guess that they were expecting you to come home overflowing with gratitude for all the things you took for granted, which was an optimistic, though reasonable expectation. Most adult children will eventually have that attitude, and most parents look forward to that day excitedly. When you came home feeling sullen they probably took it as a personal insult, not only were you failing to be as grateful as they expected, you were actively ungrateful! (Don't feel bad if you aren't feeling the gratitude yet. It often takes years for that understanding to really take root, and it really can't be forced.)

    Anyhow, my honest opinion is that the best thing you (or any adult child) can do for your relationship to your family is move out. It's probably too late for this summer, but make arrangements to have an apartment for next summer.

    Don't feel like you failed your family your obligations to them, though important, are secondary to your emotional happiness. And I don't care what anyone says, it is not normal for adult children to enjoy living with their parents. (Perhaps ask your mom how she would feel about living with her mom the way she's asking you to live with her?)
    posted by Blogger Starfoxy at 8/01/2006 08:50:00 AM  

  • Speaking from experience . . .

    Being the oldest child is hard. It's hard for your parents to let you be independent and it's hard for you to speak up for yourself. I never really went through the phase of coming home for the summer, (I kind of forced my independence on them by getting married after my first semester of college, but that was still a major adjustment) all I can tell you is to let them know what your feeling. You've changed a lot in the past four months, and it will take them some time to get to know the "new you." So just be upfront about your feelings. They'll understand.
    posted by Blogger Trivial Mom at 8/01/2006 08:53:00 AM  

  • You are going from "child who needs guidance" to "adult child visiting home" It is a hard, hard, adjustment. I think for me, it was even harder than the adjustment from single to married.:)

    Plus, your parents are going through this adjustment too. They've never known what it's like to have an independent adult living in their house who is also their child.

    First of all, you are right about the self-pity, and while it perfectly natural, it's not at all helpful. So it needs to go.
    Also, whining about being unappreciated isn't going to fly, either. Your parents have been unappreciated for years, simply by virute of being parents. So trying to shift your attitude is number one, and I'm glad to read that you've been doing that.

    Second of all, you need to come up with new "rules" that you are going to live by while under their roof. For example, curfew should not be an issue, but calling to let them know when you'll be there is courteous and should be done.

    If you borrow their car, return it full of gas, and expect the same if they use your car (if you have one). This is what adults do.

    I say, get a job that uses a ton of hours, (or work extra at the one you have)and see what friends you can find to hang out afterward. If nobody's around, don't sulk about it, just find other ways to fill your time. (start blogging - it's a huge time suker) Of course, this isn't easy. It's the first time you or your parents have done it.
    posted by Blogger The Wiz at 8/01/2006 10:17:00 AM  

  • Ah! I'm so glad to know I'm not the only one that feels this way. (I am also merely a lurker, not a mom.) I moved away for school a year and a half ago. I was away for one semester, then moved back home. I hated it - being home and having to follow someone else's rules again. But, my mom got married that summer, and it was good for me to be there to get to know my step-dad. This summer, however, I stayed here (St George). I've been home to visit a few times, but it's different.

    I feel completely out of the loop. And it's not quite the hero's welcome that I expect each time I go home. I am trying to get my family to participate in a family blog, so we can keep up with each other's lives... but they're not as addicted to blogs as I am.

    As for birthdays... I was taken out to dinner (at Pizza Hut) when they came through town because a group from my home ward was going to General Conference. They also had two girls from our ward with them. That was my birthday. It's disappointing, after having a semi-big deal made out of your birthday.

    But my family loves me and I love them. Even though it's hard, I am trying to keep in touch with them often. My brothers and I get along a lot better now, too, so that's a bonus. :-)

    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 8/01/2006 11:36:00 AM  

  • I'm not a mom either, verging on it (by the end of this month), and I lurk for the blunt talk that no one else will provide me!
    I moved home after my first year at college - only for two months - and it was the most miserable two months I spent in that house. While I pull up near the rear of my family sibling order, it didn't mean that I didn't clash like I've never clashed before with my mother. My advice? Like The Wiz said, work a lot. I spent a lot of time chatting online to friends at night after my parents had gone to bed, when the computer was available, and that helped me feel like I was connecting with friends from back at school. I had a sister one year behind me in school and at her graduation party I kind of...hooked up with a guy from her grade, which also helped me stay busy :)
    Just know it won't last forever. I moved back in with my parents a couple of years later to prepare for my mission, and by then, I enjoyed their company and they were more willing to let me have the freedom I was used to (plus being pre-mish, they seemed to trust me more). Go to summer school if you can after this - I loved my summer classes and never regretted only visiting home for a couple of weeks out of the year. It helped me appreciate the time I spent there much more. Besides, in the 'real world', four month breaks don't exist and it's good to prepare for that. I also call home once a week, instituted when I was in school and it's carried over the past 9 or so years, which helps me feel involved. Stick out the summer and don't worry, it gets better.
    posted by Anonymous VirtualM at 8/01/2006 11:55:00 AM  

  • This is such a tough time! I had a similar experience after coming home from my first year at college. It was a really hard transition to go from total freedom to my parents' home and I sulked and they were bugged for several weeks. But then I had to get over myself. Like others said, stay busy, try to hang out with your friends as much as possible, work a bunch if you can. Trying to be curteous and respectful to your parents while maintining a bit of your independence is important.

    My solution for this was to not go home the next few summers before I got married. After my sophomore year, I got a job with a friend in another state and was only home for a few week's visit. The summer after my junior year I had an internship in my major and also only visited home for a few weeks. Being a visitor is much easier than living at home again after being on your own for a while. I hope the rest of your summer goes smoothly. Take care!
    posted by Anonymous Mary at 8/01/2006 12:04:00 PM  

  • The best way to have people (especially parents) treat you like an adult is to act like an adult. That means more than having a job and no curfew. It means being polite and respectful to others, taking care of your own needs (laundry, cleaning up after yourself, etc.) financially contributing to the household expenses, emotionally contributing to the well-being of the family, the list goes on.

    I have a child home from college for the summer. It is a difficult time for both parent and child. Speaking from the parent point of view, it would really help if there was more adult communication and contribution and less whining about how miserable homelife is. He has been very busy working two jobs, which is great. But his room hasn't been cleaned all summer (except for the time I cleaned it). He will complain that there is "never anything good to eat in the house" but has never offered to run to the store for me. In fact, he acts very put out when he is asked to run an errand for me. My solution to survive the summer has been to stay clear, avoid looking in his room, not expect much from him, and count the days until he is off again to college. Sounds cold, doesn't it. I wish it had been better. I had looked forward to better. But, oh well. We will both live through it. We occasionally have some good conversations, laugh, and joke around. Other times he looks at me like I'm and idiot or an enemy. I'm not going to take it personally. I will always love him and I'm sure he will still become a responsible, loving, caring adult. When that day comes, I am going to take all the credit.

    I just thought it might be helpful for you to see what's happening on the other side of the fence.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 8/01/2006 02:15:00 PM  

  • College Girl,

    My first summer home after leaving for college was one of the most diffcult times of my life. For me, it wasn't family so much as friends that made it hard, but that doesn't really matter. Returning to your "old" world after immersing yourself in the "new" one is going to be a difficult adjustment.

    I think the things that pulled me through were dedicating myself to a job (even though it was totally mind-numbingly boring and I hated it...) and keeping up with my college friends as much as humanly possible. Being the old lady that I am (30 this year girls!) I didn't have IM, text messaging and the like to make this easier, but you too may be limited by your technology access for all I know! Another thing you could do is to break down the time remaining into reasonable chunks, and plan some things to look forward to during each chunk of time - whether it's a day at the beach or a day hike or a manicure or whatever. Reward yourself and do what you can in your daily interactions with your family to earn that reward!

    Then, I think the goal of a job or internship elsewhere next summer sounds like a good one for you.

    Glad you lurk, hope you stick around and comment too!
    posted by Blogger marian at 8/01/2006 06:05:00 PM  

  • I only went home one summer. It was after my freshman year. I remember coming home for Christmas and feeling a bit weird. I showed everyone my pics and realized that my new life and friends didn't mean much to them because it wasn't their life.
    My summer home was great though. I mostly remember my job and meeting and hanging out with some new people.
    If you are spending too much time at home, get another job. Go ahead and let your family have their own lives. Siblings grow up and during certain times they aren't that into having good relationships with their sisters (do you remember?).
    If your parents have expectations of chores or curfew, etc., it is their house and they get to set the rules.
    Its a time of transition in your life so give yourself (and everyone else) a break. Be glad that you are ready to start living on your own as adults should.
    posted by Anonymous JKS at 8/01/2006 07:27:00 PM  

  • Oh, about your birthday. I have never understood how husbands "forget" birthdays. Doesn't the wife tell her husband what she wants to do for her birthday?
    Next time, if you want a birthday celebration go ahead and tell people. "Mom, can you make lasagna for my birthday?" "I want to go see a movie to celebrate my birthday, do you want to come with me?"
    If people forgot, did you do something else later to celebrate?
    If you want a going away party for yourself, tell your family. "Since Thursday is the last night we can hang out before I leave, can we all stay home and play Cranium together?" Keep in mind that you want to have fun with them, but their lives don't really revolve around you, especially your younger siblings.
    Also, they can't read your mind.
    posted by Anonymous JKS at 8/01/2006 07:33:00 PM  

  • yeah, the transition is tough.
    you feel like an outsider- well, as an adult living an independant life, you should be a bit of an outsider!
    Try to work more, do some summer school, go visit more friends. Read mroe, volunteer more, but make yourself scarce at home. Being there too much blurs the line you're trying to establish- that you're turning into a mature adult, not a child under their control anymore.

    And I agree that being the oldest child probably gave you all an incorrect assumption- that being back at home would be fun/exciting or comfortable like before. I don't think I've ever met anybody who'd agree with that expectation!
    posted by Blogger cchrissyy at 8/02/2006 10:29:00 AM  

  • you are SOOOOOO not alone. communication is key. Set some new rules in your house. You have to respect the p's b/c it is their house, but maybe you should try like a tenant/landlord meeting thing where you offer to cook a few meals a week or agree to staying up later and getting up later b/c that is your new lifestyle.

    If you aren't working this summer, start finding things to do for your personal growth (b/c that is what this time is all about). Exercise, try something new, go to your chamber of commerce website and find out all the free stuff out there, do the Artist's way course, write, volunteer, read, soul search.

    You will find the answers you are looking for when you do all these things, and you will know what to say to them...and it is going to be messy, but you will work it all out. just know, we have all been there...and it is not a picnic
    posted by Blogger Kage at 8/02/2006 10:47:00 AM  

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