The door slammed and I heard my sons’ voices fade into the night. I believe they were bantering about the World Series, and whether their hometown Cubbies or my hometown Indians should win.
And then, silence.
The dog looked at me and I at her, both of us at a loss. We are used to being abandoned every other weekend when the boys are with their father. But this felt different.
My eldest was sporting a hot off the presses driver’s license, only about four hours old. He and his younger brother were headed to pick up the dry cleaning and some batteries for me.
We’re talking maybe a 15-minute trip at most.
And yet, the urge to pace was overwhelming. Bailey joined me on her four furry legs.
The voice I don’t like to listen to, that busybody worrywart voice, decided to make itself heard.
“Soon, they’ll come in and out of that door infrequently.”
“They will have their own lives, their own cars, their own plans. And you will take a backseat.”
That is as it should be. My job is to train them to leave me.
“Do you really want to be left? All alone in this house? No lacrosse balls rolling around, no sweaty locker room smells, no video game controllers to stub your toe on in the dark? No raucous laughter from the second floor? No light snores from the rooms down the hall?”
I distinctly recall saying, ‘Shut up.’ Let’s follow that directive, shall we?
“You had children thinking you would have a husband who would grow old with you. You’d both wave from the front porch as they headed to college after holiday break. Now, when they go—it’s just you. Even Bailey will be getting ready to leave you by then.”
Sigh. No shutting up, eh? We’re not going around the issue, but through it, are we? Well then. Listen up. I’m only going to say this once. I would like—but do not need—a man standing next to me waving. I will not chain them to me because they are worried I am going to be lonely, or wither away, or have hours in which to twiddle my thumbs.
No. Let me say it again. NO. While I regret not having more minutes to spend with them now—now when I’m in the thick of it paying tuition, keeping the house they’ve grown up in, showing them bits of the world now and again—I do not regret showing them what engaging in life looks like.
I want to see them best me. I want to know that they’re riding a camel in the desert, hiking a stream in the Alps, falling in and out of love, performing heart surgery, building the next super-car.
And while they are doing those things, I will try to catch up—perhaps—on some bits I missed out on. That work trip to the south of France I could not take because my baby was a week old and I did not want to leave him. The Kuala Lumpur jaunt I could not take because—at seven months pregnant—a trip around the world was not wise. The 800-page books that have sat on my “to read” list for years. The book I have in my heart that is not yet fully written. The camel in a desert, the stream in the Alps, falling in and out of love—sure, those too. Heart surgery and super-cars may be beyond me, but those will be taken care of by two of my best loved. All the rest I will claim as my own in due time.
So, yes, annoying, petty, small little voice, I DO want them to leave eventually. Not that I won’t shed tears and miss them and feel as if my heart is being shredded with a cheese grater. But, I want them to live. To live the way I have hopefully taught them to do. To come home with stories of their adventures and their failures stronger, wiser, softer, gentler, kinder, more seasoned. To bring their own brand of light to this confused world.
And when all of this happens—when we sit by the fire with our spiked hot chocolate and tell stories—I will revel in their tales. But I will not be without stories of my own.
With that, the door swung open and my two man-boys walked back in sporting dry cleaning, batteries and the unhealthiest snacks I’ve ever seen for purchase at the drugstore.
No more time for conversations, silly little voice.
This mama is busy making the most of the time in between door slams. After all–as you’ve so helpfully pointed out–it goes by so fast.