Not two days after Ben came home, we were kneeling for family prayer when Ben commented, “Wow, Hans’ bed is really comfortable.”
“It’s a piece of memory foam over the mattress.” I explained. “I can pick some up for you at Costco. It doesn’t cost much.”
“Oh, don’t bother,” he replied, “I probably won’t live at home ever again anyway.”
If you’re a woman and a mother, reading that made your heart hurt. If you’re a man, you probably laughed out loud. I don’t mean to be sexist, but those reactions have been pretty distinct every time I tell this story. It’s much like when we brought home our pet bunny– female: “oh, how cute!” male: “How delicious!”
As for me, I burst into tears which welled up often over the next few days. My boy, my oldest son, had just returned after two painful years of absence and he was never going to live at home again.
Unarguably, Ben’s timing was poor; sadly, his words ring of truth. We’ll have him home for just five short weeks before he moves down to BYU for Spring Term, he’ll be back again for six weeks this summer, then move back to BYU again and life… Erik suggested a summer internship for Ben and I was bit fierce insisting, “We have six weeks; we are going to Lake Powell and San Diego and spending every minute we can with him.”
All the old ladies at the grocery store were right– they grow up too fast and a good mother works herself out of a job. I’m not good at moving on; I don’t want my children to leave. And yet I know I must. Why have I spent all these years teaching them to do laundry and dishes, be nice and do well in school if not to be independent?
Ben’s been a little more careful with my feelings since. We’ve had a great time talking, cleaning the pantry, discussing books and ideas and faith. Which gives me some hope they’ll come back when they are hungry or need a babysitter or just to throw pumpkins off the roof. We can stand in the kitchen and talk, until life calls them in different directions.
Still, I should have pushed the University of Utah. Great school, lots of scholarships, commute from home.
Or I should have had more babies. Or both.