Parenting is challenging at any time. It is certainly more challenging when one has written about the way a parent should behave, and then for the sake of consistency, accountability and honesty, one feels compelled to follow one’s own advice.
Summer in my house has been interesting, to say the very least. Regular readers know that my son’s GF has stayed with us for the summer. Never really convinced that it was the best idea, I kind of let life happen, and allowed them to stay with the understanding that there were certain rules that were to be followed: Each was to be responsible for $25.00 worth of household expenses, and GF was to stay in the empty room downstairs.
Well, needless to say, neither of those happened.
They moved out yesterday in a rented U-haul to move to a house off campus that they are sharing with a bunch of other kids. Bittersweet feelings flooded my head as I sat in the dentist chair getting drilled, just as happy that I did not have to watch him move out again.
My home has been a series of emotional comings and goings, two husbands, the death of my mom, my oldest son to college, and back and forth on breaks and vacations, and now preparing for my middle child who will be heading to University in a year.
Part of my reason for letting them move in this summer was to fill the house again. Completely selfish, I know, but the death of my mother left a dark emptiness as her door stayed shut, and the little doggie would go in whenever I entered to try to figure out what happened to the nice lady who snuck her steak and goodies under the table.
I still wonder what she thinks about the lady who never came back.
So, selfishly thinking that I could fill the house with laughter, and keep my son my baby just a little longer, I allowed the move in.
We did laugh… a lot. I watched and watched, and watched their relationship, and could find nothing but love and an openness and sharing and willingness to do for each other, that I did not have in either of my marriages. She gave my daughter hand me downs, I gave her boots and a purse. Lots of sharing.
She got a mosquito bite, he was itchy. Symbiotic. Love.
I remember him telling me, regarding the sharing of the room, it’s not about the sex. I need her. I love her.
After the Summer, I still cannot find anything wrong. There are no red flags… nothing. ( Well, I think she talks too much, and it gets on my nerves, but hey, she is not going to be MY wife )
Nearing the end of their summer journey with me, I watched them pack.
Knowing that I am selling my house ( hopefully soon), my son knew that he needed to deal with a collection or ephemera that had been taped to his door… concert tickets, plane tickets… my sentimental boy collects his memories and that door was his forever link to home.
Knowing that I had already given them permission to take a table that I was going to get rid of because like me, it had seen better days. Their young, full of possibility eyes saw something for their new home.
They started to paint the table, using whatever colors we had in the house, and it looked full of life and possibility.
Almost jealous that they could see life where I saw only garbage, I thought about my frame of mind and became sadder.
Back to the door.
While he worked his summer internship, she took it upon herself, and cut down the memories from his door. She spent 8 hours in near 100 degree heat decoupaging the memories to the table. It was done with love, and I fear a bit of control, as my other son and I shook our heads with fear about what was to happen when he came home.
When #1 son came home, he went to his room and screamed where are my tickets, as he approached the closed door. He opened it to find her sleeping after hard day of work.
Dinner was quiet. She had already cried on my shoulders at his response. I hugged her, knowing that it was done with love, but tears filled my eyes as I knew he was upset, and that she had cut one more imaginary thread that existed between son#1 and home.
Son#2 said to me, I knew he would be upset. I asked middle child why he did not speak up. Because she doesn’t listen.
Somehow relieved that I wasn’t the only one who realized that, I said some very difficult words. “We will let them work it out”.
Hours later, the table brought inside to protect it from the rain, I saw them two of them sitting on the floor in the living room with his computer. There had been no blood, no screaming… they worked it out. Proud of my son’s behavior, I hugged him.
I asked what they were looking for, and they collectively told me, a piece of glass for the top of the table, to protect it, so that they can have it always.
Love. So many lessons learned.