Last week I wrote about my recent experience of living through episode two in the mini-series The Your Child Leaves Home Season. My son just left for his second year of college.
For those of you NOT in this season, my apologies for being “stuck” here currently. And, yes, here’s another Jack’s Smack on the topic.
The Initial Move:
“I followed up, four days later.”
I was not part of my son’s initial move-in to his new apartment. He is a second year at University and decided to move out of the dorms and into a three bedroom apartment. The apartment complex is large and designed specifically to house the Boone NC higher-ed student population. They even provide roommates, should you not have them yourself.
His dad helped with the initial heavy lifting and moved our kid into his place. I followed up, four days later. I am not a fan of long car drives (notice I say drives – being a passenger is ok), but a three hour drive to visit my baby seems reasonable. Three hours in the car for much of anything else – the ROI (return on investment) is debatable.
I need to be clear. I didn’t “tell” my son I would be going to his place. My son, actually, invited me up and was genuinely excited to host me. His viewfinder, I came to understand, was quite different from mine. Mama believed she was going up to put a proverbial red ribbon on the move. I wanted to make sure the clothes were in drawers, the study desk was set up for success, and that there were groceries in the refrigerator. He, on the other hand, wanted to “show off” his new level of independence. His new home.
With two such different agendas, would it be a successful mission?
He didn’t need any help. Or so he thought. Yet I believed he did. Do you see this conundrum? My mother’s perspective is to well,… mother him. Heck, I’ve been doing it for 19 years. I don’t know any other way of being. He, on the other hand, is ready. Ready to do things his way. His way??? WTF?
Transition From Mother To Guest In A Hot Minute:
“I wanted to go in, guns blazing, and organize-organize-organize, I, instead, asked questions.”
Now, growing up the daughter of an over-involved Cuban-immigrant mother, I had no good role model for respecting one’s children’s adult independence (sorry, Mami´, but you know it’s true). Lucky for me I had a fantastic mother-in-law role model. For the 15 or so years of my marriage, I hosted her in my home many times. Even though she was my husband’s mother and accustomed to mothering him and being the matriarch in her home, she kept her opinions (mostly) to herself. At the time, I didn’t realize the vote of confidence that provided me as I took on the role of matriarch in my own home.
And I know this situation is different. Aidan has three roommates, none of whom are a romantic partner. So while I am not taking a back seat to another significant other, the apartment is still not mine. Unless you count who pays for it.
While I wanted to go in, guns blazing, and organize-organize-organize, I, instead, asked questions. “What is still needed?” “Would a bookshelf help?” “Would a router/satellite set-up make a difference in internet speed?” “How about a shoe rack for the back of the closet door?” I think you get the picture. Rather than “tell”, I choose to ask. Very pointed questions, by the way, and I wonder if to him it felt like the ask I was aiming for versus the parent’s typical tell I was trying to avoid.
I wasn’t there long. My son offered up his new bed to me and I quickly became uncomfortable with the notion of him sleeping on his own couch. The irony of those feelings? Throughout his childhood, I cannot begin to count the number of times, upon waking, I would find my kid on some arbitrary piece of furniture in some random room in my house… a couch in our tv room, a lounge chair on the back deck, a chair-and-a-half piece in the living room. Yet, here, in his new home, that felt wrong to me.
“did my son get what he needed from hosting me?”
Did I Red Ribbon the heck out of his new living quarters?
Yeah, not so much. I do believe I made a positive difference. By the time I left there was a new bookshelf, a router, a shoe rack, and a nightstand by his bed. And though I was just a spectator in the process, the desk was set up and all ready for him. Mostly organized for online gaming, but he assured me the arrangement works well for studying too.
More importantly, did my son get what he needed from hosting me? Did it turn out okay for him? I guess the proof will be if I am invited back. Stay tuned.