My son was feeling a bit anxious about going back to college. His life at home is comfortable, predictable, not demanding. Besides the fact that he just returned from a month’s trip globe-trotting around China and being reminded how rich and fascinating the big wide world is, now he was going back to a mundane schedule of classes, projects due, tests and a new string of profs to get to know and how to please, as well as being responsible. Ugh!
The son brings sunshine into the family home too with his happy nature, great sense of humor, laughter, warm affection, lively music, spontaneous dance parties with his mom on the kitchen tiled floor, a dependable walking partner and on and on. I was not looking forward to the light going out.
So we packed up his folded clean clothing, flannel sheets, bags of groceries and made the drive to the North Philly hood. There we discover a lost key and a forgotten code to get into the apartment. Luckily, the mom who is aware of this shortcoming in her son’s nerve connectors, wrote it down and carries it with her.
He left for winter break in a rush. Empty glasses litter surfaces, dried Spaghetti-O’s in saucepans, his girlfriend’s shirt is in a ball under the bed. There’s no toilet paper in the bathroom, the tub is coated with black dirt and a roommate said when he returned, the drain was not working. Todd opens it up to find tremendous hair balls stuck in the drain that he fishes out with a bent bobby pin. We mix up soapy water and wash down his personal room fridge before filling it up with homemade soups and stews. I change the filthy sheets then hug and kiss the boy good-bye.
The husband and I talk little on the drive home. He sleeps with his mouth gaping open. Over washing and drying the dishes together, we fight. I ask him a question. He merely looks at me. I ask two more times. Still silence, and then I lose it. He wants to know why every question needs an answer. I told him that normally, when people converse, they answer one another. It’s just polite. And I think, this is what my FAMILY has been reduced to.
In reality, the father is as unhappy about losing the son to college as the mom. It comes out differently and it gets directed to the wife and vice versa. It actually happens every semester for eleven times now. We know what it is when it rears its ugly head but it never feels any better.
The son calls and wants to know what we are doing. Fighting, which is better than listening to a quiet house. We must learn to continue on without the light. We must learn how to turn the light back on for just us because that is all that is left. It is a fact of life. Children grow up, move out, move on. It just never seems to get easier and it never looks any prettier. But change is a part of life and we may as well attempt to embrace it. This mom, however, when it comes to losing her kids, usually goes down kicking and screaming.