Growing up shouldn’t mean giving up family

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Nicole Schroeder

If someone is to ever spend the night at the Schroeder household, I can always promise him/her three inevitable things that will happen throughout the evening. One, Daniel will undoubtedly start an intellectual debate with someone else in the family at some point in the night, for which there is no possible way either side can win. Two, if there is any cooking to be done by my mother, the visitor will eventually hear a clanging pot or sizzling food, along with a chorus of “ow”s immediately afterward — this isn’t a cause for alarm as much as the reality of my mom injuring herself when she cooks. Three, no matter what is going on that night, who has an event going on or when the next child has to be carted off to drama club practice or to clarinet lessons, my family and I will always eat dinner together.
The tradition of my family eating dinner together has existed for as long as I can remember. Even when we’ve barely had time to take a breath before eight o’clock at night or had to run straight from the dinner table to another commitment, we’ve never questioned our practice of devoting an hour in the evening in each of our schedules to being away from friends and focused on each other.
Maybe it’s because of this tradition that we’re so close as a family, or maybe we’re just an odd bunch in that my siblings and I rarely fight and that we sometimes see our parents as being cooler than our friends. Whatever the reason, I feel as if I’m leaving more than just a school and friends behind when I leave for college next year.
Of course, attending the University of Missouri-Columbia, I won’t be going far, and a visit home won’t cost a small fortune as much as it will a part of a tank of gas and a 10 minute drive to my house. Yet, even that short distance seems final in the grand scheme of things — a first step toward moving out and separating from the group of people I’ve lived with my entire life. While some seniors can’t wait to get out of the house and make their own way in the world, the thought of leaving my family behind — even so short a ways as across town — saddens me.
In fact, the only thing that keeps me grounded about next year’s move to the dorms is the knowledge of how frequently I will be able to visit my family. Living as close as I will, I still plan to come home for dinner often or, every once in a while, take the opportunity to sleep in my own bed when I feel homesick. Though I’m moving, I’m comforted by the fact that I’m not yet moving away.
Still, my thoughts about next year certainly have their critics. Even some of my close friends have reminded me of how college is a time for me to find my own way in the world, or an opportunity to cut ties and become independent. They say I won’t get the full college experience unless I distance myself from my closest friends — my family.
I don’t see it that way, though. My closeness to my family doesn’t necessarily mean I’m dependent on them; rather, it’s a sign of the love I have for my parents and siblings. Living as close as I will to the rest of my family, I will have an opportunity most students envy. When I’m sick, my mother will be able to comfort me in person rather than over the phone. My siblings will still see me weekly, and I won’t have to miss important family events simply because I can’t afford to travel home. I’ll still be able to eat home-cooked meals when I want to and cuddle with my pets. Even if all I need is just to talk, my mom and dad will be just down the street, waiting with open arms.
College, for most, is a time to explore. It is a time for teenagers to become adults, to learn responsibility, time management and how to live on their own. Though most students move away from their family after graduating, it doesn’t mean they have to completely cut ties with the people that raised them.
As the year comes to a close, I can sleep soundly knowing that I will still have the people I love in my life. Next year, I will be living on my own, but I won’t be alone. I will still have my family, and for that, I am thankful.
How often do you plan to visit your family in college? Do you think visiting your family shows dependence? Leave a comment below.