However, it's a little bit different when they "live at home" and go to college. I put that in quotes because I found that home has intermittently become:
a big, messy closet
a cafeteria (or to-go cafe)
a stop-off or meet-up place
a party place
a crashing place
a sometimes resting place.
As a big messy closet, home is where she stores her clothes -- socks in every room, shoes the same. In her actual room, the bed is strewn with clothes -- clean, I assume, or are the clean ones piled, unfolded on the floor? Dirty towels are usually in the corner, and clean towels could be on the bed or the floor. Not many clothes are actually folded or rolled up or even hung up in her double closet (remodeling gave her the office closet -- giving lots of storage space -- she also has the largest bedroom.) Her furniture is new, chosen for its beauty, sturdiness, and usefulness. But more clothes are out of the drawers than in.
Home as laundromat. We know kids are famous for bringing home every last bit of dirty clothes for mom to wash. My plan: early on I taught that laundry duty is a personal care chore -- so she is independent in that sense. But she will let the clothes pile up until she has absolutely no clean clothes at all. She does have a lot of clothes. I believe she has more than she knows of, but maybe she's grown out of some of her clothes. In any case, she knows her way around the washer and dryer. She will also leave clothes in the dryer so that I will have to remove them in order to do my laundry. Then I usually fold them for her, so maybe I didn't teach the laundry lesson all that well, or she might be a con artist.
Home as cafeteria. Now that I live with a college student, we rarely eat meals together unless we're coming home from church on Sunday, or out shopping together. Then we may go out to a restaurant, or get take out and eat at home, usually watching TV. Other times, she will open the fridge and the pantry and have cereal to go, apples and peanut butter to go, cheese sticks to go, oatmeal to go -- you get the picture. Gone are the days of a family sit down how-was-your-day meal.
Home as stop-off or meet-up place. Often Katy will rush home from class to change clothes, grab food, and then meet up with a friend (who usually doesn't come in), or go to meet a friend. I used to know all her friends and have even had short and lighthearted conversations with them. But with most of them mobile: having their own car and phone -- there's a lot of texting about meetups. Speaking of texting, even when we're together, there is always several conversations she's carrying on with her phone.
Home as a party place. Occasionally, our home is the chosen venue for the meet up. Then friends of both genders, or sometimes just girlfriends, will meet up to watch movies with lots of candy, soda, and popcorn in the sun room (our version of the family/rec room), have s'mores in the fire pit, dip in the hot tub, smoke vapor, or all of the above. It's nice to know where she is, but it seems I'm just the caretaker.
Home as a crashing place. When I've complained that she's never home, I never get to see her, then she'll come home, plop on the sofa, turn the TV on, and soon is sound asleep. I know she needs her sleep, and I'm comforted knowing she's home safe, but it's not really a home visit so much as a home crashing pad.
Home as a sometimes resting place. Along with the crashing place, home is a place where she'll spend some time watching videos, you-tubing on the computer, printing out papers for school, sun bathing, and always petting, hugging, and kissing all the pets -- cats and dogs.
Ellie, our largest dog, gets this goofy grin and crinkles her eyebrows, while dancing around whenever Katy comes home. Maybe that's why she comes home so often, for Ellie Puppy to make her "Katy's home face." Our smaller dog, LexieLu, has the cute face, too, makes the sweetest humm humm noises and wags her entire rear end when Katy's home -- she has to get right in her face and nibble her -- "um, yes, it's Katy." We are all so happy when she's home -- we fuss over her and hug her -- sometimes I still have to scold her -- but mostly it's all lovey dovey.
And that's why home is so empty when she's not here. We have only ourselves to entertain. We miss her infusion of energy and excitement. It's quieter without her music or the TV blaring -- (I'll sometimes leave the radio on just for background noise.)
We miss her and want her to miss us and home, too. Still, when she comes home, it's uplifting and magical. Then she leaves again, there are kisses and hugs all around. Hey, I even get warm texts -- can I say that, or is it an oxymoron? We're just glad to have her for however long or short her home stay is -- until her next visit home!