Dear Kids Who Came Home for Spring Break,

It was a great week—ten-ish days—and I’m not complaining. Much. But when you returned to college, you left behind a few things.

In your bedrooms: two twisted-up comforters and fresh dents on your pillows. If I laid my head there, I would probably smell your shampoo, so I won’t make your beds. Not yet.

In your bathroom: two towels in the hamper still damp from your last showers. It was dark when I woke you up—at 5:45 on Easter Sunday—so we could take you to the airport. After Dad and I got home from dropping you off, I wished we hadn’t skipped the baskets and eggs.

In the refrigerator: Jack’s leftover beef broccoli and Karly’s sweet and sour chicken, along with the pasta and homemade marinara Karly said was the best she’d tasted. That extra loaf of your favorite sourdough will be in the freezer until June. I’ll have to buy fresh avocados for toast. But the bread we’ll have already.

In my bedroom: the bag of hand-me-down clothes Aunt Nancy brought when she came to see you. Karly, you helped me pick out stuff that “looks like you, Mom.” You also handed down things you no longer wanted. I’m wearing your sweatshirt and sweatpants now.

In the backyard: bathing suits draped over patio chairs from the last night Jack’s girlfriend was here. Carly-with-a-C went to dinner with us and we rented a movie. Everyone sat in the hot tub. When you’re back home, we’ll resurrect our tradition of homemade pizzas on the grill.

In the garage: the 2007 RAV4 you shared until the battery died. Dad backed it into the garage until summer. (Even the car’s waiting for you.)

Speaking of cars, after the Toyota’s battery died, you had to borrow mine. When I left for work yesterday, the driver’s seat had been moved all the way back, and the mirrors adjusted to Jack’s height. In the cup holder was a crumpled receipt from Target for Karly’s new mascara. These reminders of you were unexpected, and they took my breath away.

I’m sure you know the dogs have been looking for you.

Scout snarfs around on Jack’s rug; Bailey burrows under Karly’s duvet. The beanbag chair you moved into the family room for extra seating is Bella’s go-to sleeping spot. I don’t have the heart to move it, so the bag can stay. A happy reminder of your visit.

This was a great week—ten-ish days—and over a little too soon. While you were here, some cousins visited, and your aunts and uncles—some planned, some more spontaneous.

We played pool and binge-watched Netflix. We had fires in the fireplace. We even ate dinner in the dining room. Twice.

And then, at 5:45 on Easter morning, you left behind that now-familiar pit in my stomach. It will fill in a day or two, once we’ve had the chance to text or FaceTime, and I know you’re both all right, and we’ve returned to our routines, and my heart remembers what it’s like when you’re gone.

Eventually I’ll toss out the leftovers, bring in the bathing suits, wash your sheets.

But not today.

Today I’ll let myself miss you because of the things you left behind.

Be safe, my babies. Text me back.

I adore you both.

Love, Mom

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13 thoughts on “Dear Kids Who Came Home for Spring Break,

  1. Diane

    …and even a friend got to visit and catch up with the kids. We love them and we love you.

  2. Now I have a pit in my stomach. Beautiful Julie.

  3. *hugs*

  4. Carly with a C

    Remember when Karly said it was the best feeling in the world putting on that first coat of a new mascara- and you and I both looked at each other and shook our heads? That is exactly what I thought of when I read the part about her receipt LOL 🙂

  5. Kristi

    All the feels. Love you dear friend.

  6. I love this! Hope it is OK to share?

  7. This was so sweet, Julie!

  8. Not looking forward to this part. Ugh. At least they want to come home and hang out with you. You’re lucky 🙂

  9. Sending you lots of love, sweet mama. And you ARE lucky – mine never comes home for Spring Break. xoxo

  10. Julie Watson

    Ooof. A little too close to home. I gave myself the required 24 hour waiting period before walking into his room and found the things mine left behind, including the Easter chocolate he won’t eat because he’s The Healthiest Person in the House. It’s a strange thing to encounter chocolate that makes me tear up (and wouldn’t consider eating). Hugs to you!

  11. Aparna Sreenivasan

    You killed me with this one. Thanks for being the Mom you are to help me muddle along the way…

  12. Laurel Janssen Byrne

    You are the cutest mom. As I sit playing YouTube family DJ songs, I am enamored with your love for your kids. ❤️❤️❤️

  13. You are so sweet. And your writing really captures all the feels. Guess you haven’t gotten to the “Woo hoo!” stage yet

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