I have been one lucky woman this past week. I spent time with each of my kids. Spending time with my kids was once something I took for granted. I am their mom. They woke me up in the morning, and they were by my side all day long. I remember craving time for myself during those years. Mommy sometimes took a 15 minute break when the kids were little. I would sit quietly in the living room for a few peaceful moments and enjoy a cup of coffee while the kids peeked around the doorway wondering why I wanted peace or quiet. How could that be fun?
Where did that time go? Where are those little blonde, big-eyed children who always had hundreds of questions? I can close my eyes and see the faces of those little children so clearly. Now they, except for Lola, are all grown up. Their lives are busy. My life has changed, too, since those days of sunshine, swings, and the sandbox. While I miss those days, there is something equally exciting in seeing them become adults. Their choices are their own. Of course, as parents we try to help and guide them, but now it is up to them to fulfill their own destinies and make their own decisions. It is rewarding to see them become such fine adults.
Luke was home from Marquette for three days. T and I drove to pick up Luke and Shannon from the train station late on Wednesday evening. It had been a long week for them of mid-term exams followed by a day of travel. They were travelling home together for the first time. I felt such joy to see them stepping down from the train. They have such deep love and friendship between them. Beneath all of that is a steady mutual respect. I love seeing my son become a good, kind, considerate man who treats his girlfriend with admiration and support. I savored those moments as the four of us drove home on the winding country roads. I felt so safe and secure to be snug in the car with people I loved so much as we drove through the dark. The girls were waiting for their brother when we made it home. There was laughter and LOUD once again in our house as we all welcomed Luke back home.
I enjoyed having my grown up son home for a few days. I had missed his sense of humor. I had missed his banter with his sisters. There was a sense of celebration for those days when our son was back home. He took Lola to the corn maze and the pumpkin patch. We celebrated with extended family. We shopped with him for a few things he needed to take back to school. We had a final night as a family at our favorite pizza place. That last night, Luke and I sat up late together in the living room and watched Netflix. I don’t even know the name of the show. It was about aliens. It was stupid, really bad, but that didn’t matter. I loved being snuggled on the couch under a blanket. I loved sitting up late, sipping a Pepsi, and munching on popcorn with my son.
Luke headed back to Milwaukee early on Saturday morning, and I headed to Chicago to see Andrew. Andy needed a few cold weather things from home. He had tickets to a movie screening on Saturday night and wanted company. I was happy to bring him the things he needed and to have a chance to hang out in the city with my son.
I was apprehensive about seeing him. I hoped that he was adjusting well to this move. I had been concerned after his recent visit home. He seemed to be homesick at the time, but I had not mentioned it to him. My oldest son, this young man who has faced more challenges in his young life than most people will face during a lifetime, oh….how I worry about him. I want his life to fit. I want him to feel self-confidence. I want him to succeed. As I rode along on my way to Chicago, I wondered what I would find. A mom “knows.” I would know the moment I saw his face if he was doing as well as his phone calls would lead me to believe.
I was thrilled the moment I saw him come around the corner. His eyes sparkled. He looked GREAT! OK, other than the facial hair and the fact that he needed a haircut! 🙂 He was happy. He was actually happy! He had so much to tell me. He told me about a girl he had met. She’s a teacher specializing in ADD. We laughed. Where had she been all of his life? He talked about school. He laughed about cleaning his apartment furiously the night before. He had graded papers from school strategically placed on the kitchen counter. He is doing fabulously! The very best part of all, though, was the huge squeeze he gave me and the genuine smile on his face.
We had a wonderful day and night. We took the train around the city. We walked for miles and miles. We shared wonderful food. We tried new beers. We went to the zoo. He took me to his favorite neighborhood hang-outs, and it was so good to see people call him by name. It was good to see that he is making a life for himself. The visit was short, but it was perfect. I am so happy for him and so darn proud!
Back home now, and while I love the city and have developed such a soft spot for Chicago, I am experiencing a new-found appreciation for my quiet country home. I’m beginning to see this wonderful place where I live as the best kept secret in the world. It’s safe and calm, beautiful and peaceful. I’m happy to be here….right here.
Tonight the girls and I were happily catching up and enjoying the whole “Girls Rule” feeling in the house again. As much as T pretends to be horrified to be the only male in the household, I know he secretly loves being surrounded by the female members of the family. He often looks baffled as the conversations swirl around him, but I can see his enjoyment as he witnesses his daughters becoming young women. Lola was happily chatting about her Halloween costume choices, and Emily was telling me about her fantastic weekend. Em’s boyfriend had been home from college, too. They had a great time together, and she was sharing every detail. She seems to be shocked that he “really likes her.”
Later, the girls and I were all in the bathroom painting our toenails while T was watching football. We were still being silly, talking, and enjoying our time together. Em told me that she had bought some Nair over the weekend, but hadn’t tried it out yet. I laughed. The last time she tried Nair on her legs, she freaked out in the shower. She accidentally touched her head and was afraid that she was going to end up bald. We laughed as we remembered that day. She had screamed bloody murder in the shower, and I had come running. I had to scrub off her legs for her while she protected her head hair. Knowing that her last Nair experience had been traumatic, I asked her why she would even want to try it again. “Oh, you know me, Mom. I make the same mistakes over and over before I finally learn.” Ha! I laughed. Like mother, like daughter! I certainly hope she learns to stop doing that much earlier in her life than her mother did.