Each year, JT spends two weeks of vacation time in the company of his other mother. It’s a strange transition for me to go from 24-hour duty to no child responsibilities at all. I usually enjoy the first 48 hours of my house staying clean. As I adjust to the odd quiet in my home, I think about the future as well as the past.
For a bit, I’m at sixes and sevens when the boy is absent. The time feels different. These days, I wonder if this is what it will be like when JT leaves for college. When he was younger, college seemed so far away. But this summer we’ve started to visit schools and talk about it in a way that is no longer unreal. My nephew C is getting ready to move away from home and start college in the fall. More than anything else, that process has set JT to thinking about his next steps. Suddenly, life as a mama with an empty nest feels less like a distant prospect and more like a distinct possibility.
So two weeks are now less an apparition in our usual life but a preview of what will soon be the story of my days. Weird. Quiet. It feels untethered to be without responsibilities. Sure, the laundry is caught up and the food bill is dramatically reduced. But the sound of a 16 year old moving up and down the stairs has faded and I find that I miss it.
The cats feel his absence as much as I do. Lucy is troubled, standing in the doorway of JT’s bedroom and looking at me like I’ve really screwed something up. Tiger, pretty needy in the first place, follows me around begging for extra time in a comfy lap. It’s like the three of us still think that this little boy is the center of our universe.
Reality is that the boy at the center of our world is well on his way to adulthood, more a man than a boy.
He makes the journey with our love overflowing from his pockets. I won’t say that we don’t miss the little boy. We do. But we’re excited to see what he will do in the world.