I went to my friend’s house for tea last week, and as soon as I walked in her kitchen it was clear we both had a case of the blues.
“No,” she said. “We’re not going to go down the road of self-pity. Tell me something good.”
And so I told her about The Rower, who has been gone all summer, and who, after bringing home the bronze for the US in the World Rowing Championships (just in case I hadn’t mentioned it three thousand times already), is now home. The Rower hasn’t really spoken to me for about two years. I get the occasional grunts, and requests for food and money, but a miracle has occurred since he has been home.
Every night, when he has finished his homework, he comes into my room, sits at the end of my bed, and talks to me. For about an hour. He tells me about school, rowing, friends, how he feels about life, his gratitude and disbelief at what he has achieved. And never have I been more grateful.
I am not ready for my children to fly the nest, but here is my son, at sixteen, having spent the summer fending for himself. When rowing practice ended at his camp in Portland, Oregon, he and a friend toured the city, found great food trucks, did laundry, organized massages. He is ready, even though I am not.
And so I have laid down some ground rules. He needs to be home more. No more spending all weekend sleeping at a friend’s house. His friends can come here. The Rower looked doubtful but that afternoon he texted me: If we had a sectional, he said, all my friends would want to hang out at our house.
Well what’s a mother to do? Two hours later I found myself in a great big shopping mall an hour away, with my feet up on the most comfortable sectional I could find. It is huge. It has ten seats, and ottomans that pull up to create what seems to be effectively a giant bed. It is, surely, every teenager’s dream. Half a dozen of his friends could surely sleep on this thing.
And so I swallowed hard at the price, handed over my credit card, and am now waiting for it to be delivered in ten to twelve weeks. And if my house isn’t filled with teenagers every Saturday night, I shall ask for my money back.