We have had the opportunity to host college kids (and it's always been young men) in our home many times over the last six years or so, as retreat counselors and for various other church-related events. A few things have changed since I was in college: Guys use almost as much "product" as girls do these days. There are creams and gels and pomades. After a number of guys have gotten ready in one bathroom, there's a distinct Eau de Male (and not the kind of eau that we notice when we house 7th grade boys). They still require less beautifying in the morning than girls do, which is one reason that I'm just as happy to host boys, but they definitely aren't as wash-and-go as boys used to be.
They were very polite and friendly, of course. "Thank you, Ma'am." "You have a beautiful home." "We really appreciate everything." But I've also picked up on one very obvious feature: I am Mom. Several years ago, it wasn't so obvious. I had one cute preschool-aged daughter. The twenty-year-old kids might have had an older sister my age, or at least a cool young aunt. But now it's become clear that they do not relate to me in this way anymore.
What's happened here? It wasn't that long ago that I was in college. Well, maybe it was. Fifteen years isn't that long is it? Now I have a kid who's nearing double digits herself, plus a young toddler. What's more, instead of relating these nineteen-year-olds to my sister-in-law who is eleven years younger than I am, I think that I myself relate to them more as I might a child, or a friend of my children, or the babysitter (being the mom to the babysittees is another thing that quickly made me feel my age).
I leave you with the evidence: After coming in and dropping his bags in his room, one young man gave me this assessment after looking around.
"I think that you and my mom would really get along. She likes everything to match, too."
I am no Martha Stewart, but I'm glad he appreciated and noticed the coordinating curtains that we installed in the family room, breakfast room and kitchen last year. But what really struck me was the unspoken motivation behind the thought:
"I can't relate to this Mom-person. What should I say to her? She'd probably rather be talking to my mom. Hey, she has material up on the windows, kind of like my mom does. I bet she'd want to talk about that."