We have just returned from visiting our son in Arizona. This was the first time that we have been houseguests in his home.
And I’ll tell you- it was straight up weird.
Not because of him. He was welcoming and gave us his very comfortable bed while he slept on a cot in his office. His new place is a small two bedroom house in a mountain town next to the Apache Reservation where he works with the youth. Still a bachelor, there was little food in the house. He did have gas heat and a flat screen TV and that was wonderful compared to the glorified Tee Pee he lived in his first winter in AZ. We were with him –that was most important to us.
The weird thing about this trip?
I realized that I am becoming my mother.
I noticed immediately upon arrival that I approached my son’s home the way that my mom has done every time she has come to visit me for the past 30 years…How can I make this situation “better”?
Better meaning…make more sense to ME.
Even now, after a visit from my mom I sometimes have to call and find out where she put the can opener. She still can’t fold my towels the way I like (it’s the little things, really…) There are a few of her “touches” that drive me a little nuts, despite the wonderful help she was to me in my childrearing years. During those years when she came to town she totally became the chief cook and laundress and it was like a mini vacation for me in so many ways. My sisters and I used to say it was worth having a baby just to have mom come and redo our kitchen ….new shelf paper and beautifully organized!
Obviously things are VERY different with a son living on his own.
The lack of food was a no brainer. Years of living in the northeast has taught me to be prepared for the sudden snowstorms that catch you off guard by always having a good stock of non perishables. My son’s pantry had 4 cans of white beans, 2 cans of black beans, 2 cans of pinto beans (see where this is going??) along with 2 cans of chopped tomatoes and I can of corn, and a handful of lentils. I’m a pretty good cook and even I’d have a hard time coming up with something edible given that assortment.
And what about last month when he was too sick to leave his house for essential “sick food” AKA chicken soup, crackers and Gatorade?
I quickly made a list and hit the store.
Upon my return I did the second thing my mom always does when she comes to visit: Clean out the fridge. Hunting for expired food (there was none, happy to report) can be really fun! Who knew? Doesn’t feel that fun at my house.
Next I started the inventory of goods and organization of possessions.
Don’t I sound like a fun house guest?
Happily—both of these departments were in top shape because my son loves cleanliness and order.
Nothing really needed my attention except the kitchen. I took one look at his pots and pans and thought “Yuck.” It probably came out something like, “Wow, honey–these pots and pans have seen better days! I think you need some new ones.” The non-stick ones had deep scratches and the metal aluminum ones had rounded bottoms and didn’t even sit flat on the stove. (And, well, they were aluminum….one way ticket to dementia.)
So to a TJ Maxx-esque place I went.
My hub played along for the most part, gently urging me to take it easy. I guess he caught that “she’s on a mission” look in my eyes. He drew the line when I wanted to put solar lights along the front of the walkway so that our son (OK…. me) wouldn’t step on a rattlesnake at night getting into the house.
I was able to cook a meal in those new pots and pans, and now my son has some old ones to take camping. Win Win.
My sweet son handled all my meddling graciously as I do my mom’s. We both recognize a mom still wants to feel needed and helpful and most of all…essential to her child’s life. No matter how old or capable the “child” is.
My son is amazing. His home is warm and inviting—his welcome is sincere. I know that someday when he has a wife these intentions of mine, no matter how well placed will not be needed or appreciated.
I saw an opportunity and I took it.
My mom would be proud!