As a single parent, I didn't realise life would be so lonely as soon as my son started college, but I'm grateful he's still living with me and I still get to see him every day.
The best thing is that I get to see firsthand as he navigates through his first tries of adulting and learning how to manage his life on his own. I'm also grateful that I'm here for him for those moments when he actually needs advice or help in whatever way.
We often take for granted with the fact that though they are 18 and legally an adult, they are only starting to go out there on their own and learning along the way. No amount of preparing them beforehand can come close to what they will have to experience for themselves. They will be hit by the realities of real life, which can come with disappointment, frustration and surprise.
As a mom, I still feel the urge to protect him, but as he walks out into the world, I stand back and watch him, hoping that he will always stay safe, make good decisions and finds his place.
I'm just glad that he's still living at home. It's different from when he was in school but there are a couple of things that I'm still getting used to.
Here are 10 things I've learnt from living with a college kid for over a year now.
PREPARE TO TRANSITION FROM PARENT TO HOUSEMATE
Well, I feel like I have a housemate, just that I do all the cooking, the groceries, most of the cleaning and the laundry!
Viewing the whole situation as such doesn't mean it's a bad thing. The dynamics in our relationship have changed. I'm an adult and he's learning the ways and responsibilities of being one. It doesn't mean that we don't talk or we're always missing each other due to our schedules.
We still chill on the sofa, in the kitchen or in my room sometimes for chats. I drive him to college every day so yeah, we have a good one hour of quality time to talk about anything, but then again, soon he'll be driving himself so I'm kind of bummed about that.
LET THEM MAKE DECISIONS, WITH YOUR SUPPORT
Whether it's choosing a major, which college and subjects or extracurricular activities, it's good to let them decide. I'm sure there will be discussions and your views and thoughts would be taken into account.
I just think it's important that in them making their decisions, we voice out our concerns should there be any. A good way to go about it is by discussing the pros and cons.
But ultimately, let them have that space to decide for themselves.
Whatever it is they decide, make sure that they know that you support them. Just because they don't choose the path that you think they should, doesn't mean that you shouldn't support them in the path that they have chosen for themselves.
MISTAKES CAN AND WILL HAPPEN
With a newfound independence, they'll want to make their own decisions on most things, and as parents of college-age kids, we have less say in whatever they decide, even if their decisions aren't always that wise.
I always remind my son that the part of his brain that's responsible for sound decision-making is still developing so what he thinks is the right thing to do at the moment, might just not be and if ever in doubt just refer to me or his father.
In the past, I've always let my son make mistakes so that he'll learn, but as he grows older, mistakes can have bigger consequences and he realises this.
DON'T EXPECT THEM TO BE BACK FOR DINNER
I'm always preparing lunch and dinner depending on his class schedule, only to find out when he gets home that he's already eaten. It's either that or he comes home and tells me that he's having dinner out with friends instead, to which I react with a sigh and slumped shoulders!
It's really not about him already having or going out for dinner, but the fact that I'm a slow cook, I spend a LOT of time preparing one single meal! And I like it when we have a freshly cooked meal.
But hey, you can only control so much, so it goes in the freezer and that's what he's having the next time he has a meal at home.
I do make an effort to schedule a dinner with him once a week, and I'm glad that he's still only too willing to have dinner with me.
ALWAYS HAVE LATE-NIGHT FOOD OPTIONS
Yes, I spoil my kid when it comes to his food. Late-night 'snacks' for him can be anything from a spicy mushroom pasta to a burrito, beef fajitas or chicken quesadilla, fried rice or even a burger.
I'll normally prepare his late-night snacks before I go to bed so he'll have a somewhat hot meal when he's ready for it.
Some people might think it's a bit too much but I feel like it's the least I can do.
GIVE UP ON TELLING THEM TO CLEAN THEIR ROOM
Let them be. They'll know how to clean up once they themselves can't stand the mess or the nauseating stench of feet!
If at 18, they choose to live in a messy room then that's on them.
THEY MIGHT BE LEGALLY AN ADULT, BUT THEY STILL NEED YOU
They really do, even if they won't admit it.
You'll find out they still need you in many ways - like when you get a call from them venting about how the college administration mixed up their timetable and they can't give a definitive answer on when it'll be sorted out, and you say a few words of advice and they say thank you. Only to find out later, they actually took your advice and got it sorted.
They're still learning to navigate the world so they will, from time to time, turn to you either to seek advice or a shoulder to lean on.
Sometimes, if I'm lucky, I get a hug!
YOU WILL HAVE THE HOUSE BY YOURSELF MORE THAN YOU THINK
I work from home most of the time, so with my son off to college most of the day, I am home alone A LOT. Even when he's home, he's either in his room, studying or out with his friends.
The house is quiet, something I used to want but now that it's here, I don't want it anymore.
It's nice to see him living his life, but it does get lonely considering that once upon a time, we used to do everything together.
PREPARE TO HAVE MEANINGFUL LATE-NIGHT TALKS
We have lots of conversations and I know that my son tells me a lot about what's going on in his everyday life, and I can't be happier knowing that he still wants to share things with me about what goes on. He might keep some information to himself, but everybody needs their own privacy on certain things so that's fine.
What I do enjoy are these talks that we have which are normally late at night about random stuff. It just gives me an insight on what goes on in his mind. It can be anything from politics to family, football, business, human behaviour, to him having a girlfriend and how that will affect our relationship, and so so many more. And from what I see, I'm impressed and proud.
He doesn't realise it but these conversations just give me so much joy.
YOU MIGHT STILL HAVE TO WAKE THEM UP IN THE MORNING
I might be the only mother in the world still doing this, or I might not, I don't know, but I still do it! Just so he's not late for class! Arghhhh!!
Are you living with your college-going kids? Care to share what you have learned?