Greta and Angela returned to college last week. After almost 5 months at home. 145 days to be exact.
But who is counting?
It has been a difficult time for our family. In many ways it was the perfect storm. Quarantine. Work and school from home. An unexpected pregnancy. The difficult news about Baby Ocho. Like everyone else in the world, we suddenly had a new normal and no precedent for navigating this surreal reality.
It was tough on the kids. It was tough on us. In many ways, it is still difficult as most of their activities/sports/jobs/etc. have ceased all together or morphed into something unfamiliar. And it was hard to know, as a parent, how to structure these long days and weeks.
I’d like to say we quickly adapted and embraced all the new opportunities and challenges. Some days we did. But on many, we didn’t. There was bickering, and fighting, and complaining. There were many times I thought we were all going insane. There was nowhere to go and nothing to do. Some days were better than others. But many were just hard.
As the time came for Greta and Angela to leave, the kids spent loads of time having fun together. Things opened up in our state and there were more opportunities to get out of the house.
A few days before we left for Notre Dame, the kids decided to take a day trip together. Food was packed. Sunscreen applied. A play list created for the “party bus” (a.k.a. Mom’s minivan). All seven piled into the car and off they drove into the great wide open. Seat belts fastened. Music playing way too loud.
Sam spent the day finishing some nagging household projects. I watched a dear friend’s wedding online while painting the kitchen cabinets. The quiet was deafening. The peace palpable.
The kids returned 8 hours later. Exhausted. Filthy. And happy.
They had climbed cliffs and rocks and trees. They swam in waterfalls and streams. They most definitely did not stay on the marked trails.
Because their mother wasn’t there to say,
“I’m not sure that’s a good idea.”
“What does the sign say?”
It was exactly the day they needed. To enjoy each other’s company. To remember how much fun they have together. To create some new memories and solidify that, despite the rough 145 days, they are all on the same team. Team Rauch.
And, when they returned home, the sky seemed to agree.
It was a beautiful ending.