Life in the States – Kids Growing Up

Our son left for college and for a while we were very busy with preparing for move-in day. There was paperwork for college, shopping for dorm necessities and the actual trip to Georgia Southern. And move-in day came and went.

Now, there are three of us left at home and we are slowly but surely getting use to this new dynamic. I have to admit, no matter how excited I am for Simon and this new phase of his life, I’m feeling a little bit lost lately.

Kids Growing Up - Garies Girl

Why?

I’ve been thinking about it a lot. And I came up with two possible reasons:

1) Expat Family Life

2) COVID

Life as an Expat

We moved to the USA 10 years ago and jumped into our new life. Our family of four started this new adventure and in my opinion, formed new and stronger bonds over the past decade. We became this new close knit family unit that took on challenges and adventures as a team. We kept our native language alive – Afrikaans is still our preferred language in the house – and we included SA food dishes and traditions in our new American life.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we did teach the kids independence from a very young age. Our kids have always been very outgoing and not shy at all. I had them enrolled in “school” since just after their 1st birthdays and they were happy to go.

We lived in a suburb of Atlanta for four years and then moved out of the city for a year. The time in Rome (Georgia, not Italy) was another milestone for our little family unit. Our property was away from the hustle and bustle of city/town life and we got even closer as a family that year. How? The house and property needed a lot of love and we had plenty of fixer upper projects to keep us all busy. Everyone had to help, even visiting family members and friends! Most of the time, it was just the four of us and that is how we celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas that year.

Everybody started spreading their wings again once we moved back to the Atlanta area the next year. Following what I would say was normal procedures, kids went into high school, got driver’s licenses, cars and part-time jobs, and started to do their own thing. All the normal preparations for leaving the house for college and beyond.

And then, 2020 and COVID.

I think this is the main reason I’m feeling “at odds” lately. Blaming it on COVID, yes indeed I am. We went into lockdown, the kids stayed home, Pieter came home from Austin, Texas and we all…well, just stayed home mostly.

We did house and garden projects, cooked, baked, played games, and overall just spent a lot of time together. Eventually, we started to go out again, but so much time went by with just the four of us.

2021 didn’t look much different either. School finished in May and both kids decided to finish their school year from home. Even the start of summer vacation was a muted affair. Simon did end up going overseas for a month (!) this past summer, but I felt fine the whole time he was away. I was busy with work, the house, this blog side project, and the prep work for college move-in day. I don’t think I stopped to think about what him going to college would really mean for the family.

Moving in to College = Moving out of our House

Shocker: I really didn’t connect the two! Simon moved into his dorm at college beginning of August, which means he moved out of our house just about a month ago. We are now a 3 person household, and we are learning to work with this new dynamic.

I’ve never seen myself as a “smother”, I’ve always tried to do the best I could with the aim of sending good adults into the world. I just lost sight of the clock on the wall – Simon took his first steps into the big, wide world much sooner than what I was ready for.

I guess I prepared the kids well enough, I just forgot to prepare myself along the way…

Did one of your kids recently move out to go to college and how are you coping with this new normal?

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