Home for the summer: A change for college students and their parents

By Angelina Miller
August 8, 2016

Angelina Miller (left) and her mother Maria Miller (right) enjoy extra time together when Angelina returned home for the summer. Angelina Miller/Staff Writer.

Student’s perspective: Angelina Miller (Class of ’19)

Math has never been my strong suit when it comes to school. Regardless of how many hours I put into drilling geometry, algebra, statistics and probability into my brain, I have never been the student to finish any course with an A. However, I did not need to use order of operations or be a math expert to solve the family equation that I was faced with at the beginning of this summer. That would be the following: (2 parents with full-time jobs) + (1 older brother with a full-time internship) + (1 younger brother, not old enough to stay home unsupervised) + (1 of myself, with a part-time job that only demands evening shifts) = a summer consisting of babysitting 5 days a week, every week.

As each school year comes to an end, most students are bursting with excitement for summer. Whether it may be a tropical family vacation, a beach trip with friends oran amusement park adventure, just about everyone has something planned to look forward to. This year, I was a different story though.

Leading up to finals week, as professors continuously asked me what I had in store for my summer, I consistently answered, “Working… babysitting… and I think I might go to Connecticut for my cousin’s wedding in August.” Their facial expressions were all pretty mediocre in response to that bland answer, which came as no surprise. It is true that when I packed up my dorm and left Cabrini in the beginning of May, all I had planned for the summer was potentially going to a small wedding with my parents the weekend before I would return to school. What a first-world tragedy, right?

Wrong. Yes, summer 2016 had the potential to be the most mediocre summer of my life, but that would only be if I did not take charge of it. I was completely aware that the season would inevitably have its pros and cons. For example:
-Pro: Being welcomed home from college to a new car that my parents bought for
me as a thank you for being willing to babysit my summer away.
-Con: Knowing I would be using that car to shuttle my brother Ethan around to
and from camps every week.
-Pro: Ethan would be in camps most weeks, giving me some free time.
-Pro: Joining the nicest pool and gym complex in my area, which even had another camp for Ethan to partake in.

It is obvious that, thanks to my parents, the pros somehow had it. At the end of the day, I really did not have to stress over not having anything super extravagant in the cards for the two and a half months I had free from school. Instead, I decided to take summer week by week, and made lemonade from every lemon that life handed to me.

Fortunately, within my first year of being at Cabrini, I was blessed with friends who were not only shared my major, interests and sense of humor, but also had just as much free time as I did. In other words, every open day or night I had, there was no question that they would be the first people I would call. Thanks to them, days that were once empty turned into days filled with adventures to creeks and rivers, Longwood Gardens, baseball games, beach trips, concerts and so on. Thanks to Cabrini, we all knew how to live with purpose- even in the summer.

In addition to spending lots of time with those wonderful people that were always down for anything, being home for the summer also allowed me to do a lot with my family. I made it to my cousin’s dance recital, my younger brother’s successful championship baseball game, a balloon festival, a Phillies game and even a beach trip with my mom’s family.

My older brother and I even threw together a vacation for me to make my first plane ride to Daytona Beach to visit my dad’s mom, and to Orlando for me to reunite with my best friend in Disney World. At the end of the day, one thing that my family and I always had in common was the mutual interest of wanting to make the most of each night or weekend that we all simultaneously had free.

Being graced with so much free time this summer also taught me how important and effortless it is to live each day to the fullest. While I could have easily kept my pajamas on from sunrise to sundown and binged on Netflix series week after week, I put my health on a pedestal and took a more productive route early on. This consisted of cooking and eating clean, hitting the gym or working out at home every day and prioritizing sleeping at least 8 hours a night for the utmost energy each proceeding morning.

I also welcomed tea and reading into my life and began to blog about wellness to keep myself in line and increase my knowledge on stress relief and more tranquil things. It is safe to say that embracing independence and learning that putting myself first definitely did not hurt at all, it only helped.
Rewinding back to April, I thought that being home for the summer with an eleven-year-old attached at my hip would be agonizing. However, I can now say that 2016 has somehow brought one of the best summers of my life. I owe it all to my friends for all of the great times and memories they have given me, my family and parents for always being on my side and myself for learning how to positively make the most of it all. Now, as I return back to Cabrini University in the fall, I am more than ready and prepared to live with purpose.


Parent’s perspective: Maria Miller (Class of ’87)

Ah… the return of the college student to the family home for the summer. When preparing for the return of my only daughter, Angelina, to our home for the summer, I admit that my heart was jumping for joy! I missed her so much during her freshman year at Cabrini, but I was also a little nervous as to what was in store for us over the summer after a whole year at school.  

Angelina’s freshman year was a bit challenging. Within her first semester, her best friend since grade school went from being her roommate to a Disney princess in Florida and her other roommate became a commuter. This was no fairytale for Angelina so early on, and she had to figure out how to navigate all of these changes on her own.

However, her second semester ended up going better than she had expected. I was relieved and proud of her for handling these challenging situations with patience and perseverance. Note to self: my little girl was growing up. Next thought….I am getting old.

As the end of a long school year approached, though, summer plans had to be made. For the past several years, Angelina had been the designated summer babysitter for our youngest son, Ethan.  At eleven years old, Ethan can be a handful; especially when he is “so bored” and has “nothing to do,” frequent complaints of a pre-teen who ironically really has a lot to do and is rarely bored.  Angelina certainly did not want to repeat last year’s summer of Ethan playing video games and little else. She vehemently requested that Ethan attend multiple sports camps and lots of day-long playdates, and I agreed.  

In addition to “Sister Daycare,” Angelina planned to continue waitressing at a local retirement home on weeknights and weekends. She also looked forward to photographing her favorite radio station’s summer concert series and spending time with friends at the beach, the movies and other typical 19-year-old places.

We wondered if we would ever see her! And we both wondered how she would do it all without transportation. Full-time jobs and other commitments kept the family cars securely with her dad and me during the day and most evenings. So, we solved the problem by adding another car to the family so that Angelina could “survive” the summer.  However, this addition also came with mom advice on curfew, letting me know if she would be late, road safety and basically how to avoid becoming a dateline statistic.

As predicted, Angelina was busy… but she was also home. With her return I was anticipating the return of her messy room, food and dishes under the bed, rolling water bottles, towels on the bathroom floor, random clothes piles and constantly asking her, “What’s clean? What’s dirty?” What I did not expect was that she actually kept her room very tidy and she even prepared a nice, neat house for us when we came home after long days at work. I also did not anticipate that Angelina would often invite me, her old mom, to shop with her at the mall, meet her for impromptu dinners and go with her to chick-flick movies. She even inspired me to rejoin a gym, although I must admit that she is way better than me with healthy eating and working out.  All of this mom-daughter time was an unexpected and welcome bonus to the summer.

Before you think all of this is too good to be true though, along came the the greatest challenge of our summer.  I call it the “Crazy Florida Trip.” Angelina came up with the brainstorm idea to fly to Florida, visit with her grandmother in Daytona Beach,  then travel to Disney in Orlando and see her best friend, all on her own. As a mom, the thoughts of TSA lines, shoes on conveyor belts and random body scans that came with traveling naturally freaked me out.

When your Mom freaks out at your idea, the next step is to call in backup- her older brother, Alex. Despite Alex just moving back home and still acclimating to the changes after graduating from LaSalle, he helped Angelina convince me that he would accompany her on the trip. Another mom might have said, “Go. Have fun!” But I needed to know every detail, every step, every possible obstacle and solution before I would sign off on the “Crazy Florida Trip.” Eventually it was all figured out, and off brother and sister went on what they decided was the best trip ever and one they would never forget.  Luckily, there were no complications. Between the two of them, they were quite capable of getting to and from their destination.

So, as the end of the summer draws near and Angelina prepares to return to Cabrini to start her sophomore year, I reflect on her summer accomplishments: babysitting her little brother, making sure the retirees were happy and fed, surviving the “Crazy Florida Trip” and most of all, enjoying being home. I know that I will be sad and teary as she drives off and heads back to Cabrini, but I take pride in how much she has done and all that is ahead of her… plus, there are only 16 weeks until Christmas break!

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Angelina Miller

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