Friday night we went to the airport to pick up Annie who came home for Christmas.
We got the added bonus of picking up Marcie, a family friend who will be staying with us until Christmas Eve.
(Her parents are mission presidents in Columbia. We’re excited to Skype with them on Christmas Eve!)
Saturday, we went back to pick up Sara.
Both times, turned into a Hometown Herndon party at the airport as we stood with all the other excited parents waiting to welcome our college students home.
Even after we retrieved the luggage we lingered, catching up on everyone’s lives.
Those parents and kids make up part of our village, our community of friends and neighbors that nurtured, guided, and loved each other’s kids to adulthood.
To their embarrassment and dismay, we were often a team of parents that collectively watched over them.
We discussed curfews, rules, and sometimes our kid’s individual struggles.
They complained about it then, and still complain about it, because they felt like we ganged up on them.
Parenting is serious business and having a strong, supportive village is central to success.
Besides, I bet every one of them will end up doing the same thing when they become parents.
Like I always told my girls when they became frustrated with my close supervision, “It’s my job and I wouldn’t be doing it very well if I didn’t care what you did.”
I don’t think I was a suffocating or overly strict parent.
Although, they both tell me their midnight curfew was unreasonable.
I still disagree.
I only had a few rules and philosophies that guided my parenting:
1. If you keep my rules, your life will be dreamy and I will stay out of your way.
If you break my rules, your life will be hell because I will be everywhere.
2. The rules were simple. Be in by your curfew. Treat me and everybody else with respect. Do your best, always. And pick up after Nikki when he poops on the neighbor’s yard so that they don’t call me to tell me you left it on their lawn.
3. “Trust but verify.” (I worked in the Reagan Administration. His rule on arms control became my parenting rule.) I always trusted them, but sometimes I felt the need to verify, just to be sure…
4. Friends are always welcome. We rarely said no to a party or hangout at our house. We enjoyed having their friends here as much as they did, as long as they left by midnight, the dreaded curfew.
There are two important reasons for a curfew.
One is that the parents need sleep.
Really, we do.
And even though I may have gone to bed before they got home or before everybody left the house, I never slept restfully until everyone was in bed and the house was quiet. (That still holds true.)
The other important reason for a curfew is that teenagers need sleep.
Really, they do.
They are grumpy, unpleasant and gnarly little people when they don’t get enough sleep.
I’ve eased up on the curfews now that they are in college. I can’t regulate their schedules while they are away, so I don’t even try when they get home. I only ask that they be respectful and let me know where they go and when they’ll be home.
But my mother heart secretly still wants them home at midnight. It just soothes my worrying soul to have them home.
Now for a few short weeks, our family is complete.
Last night our home was full of friends.
Annie and her friends were in the basement, thrilled with how we rearranged the basement furniture and added a new TV, but curious about why we upgraded their hangout after they left for college.
Sara and her friends were upstairs, talking until about two. Many of them haven’t seen each other for two years because a few of the boys have been on church missions.
Doug and I hung out in the background and smiled contentedly because our home is alive again.
Youthful energy, passion, and excitement have returned.
Everything is restored to its rightful place.
Our kids are home, naturally charging the air with their comings and goings.
Friends are streaming in and out of the house.
This is the family life we love.
Annie left a note under my bedroom door before she finally fell asleep at 3 a.m. Friday night.
She asked me to wake her up the next morning because she said “It’s been too long since you’ve come into my room to wake me up!”
So when I woke her up the next morning, we lounged together on her bed and visited for a few minutes. Then she said, “I love being home. I feel like I’m just trying to soak it all in.”
“Me too,” I said.