My children keep inviting me to leave home.
If I haven’t been away for work in awhile, Ari, 18, will start glancing through the calendar on the counter, hoping to find the glorious arrow that busts across several days and has a city name scrawled above it. Christopher, 21, prefers the direct route: he bluntly asks if I’m going away soon. Please.
I used to worry about them when I was gone. I mistakenly believed they might miss me, until it was explained to me one day.
“Don’t take this the wrong way,” said Christopher, “but when you’re gone it’s like a holiday for us.”
How could I possibly take that the wrong way?
I am slowly losing control of my household. I head to my room early every night, complaining that I’m not welcome in my own home. Well, that’s a lie; my room is simply the best one in the house. I have a king-sized bed with flannel sheets, a TV on the wall, two cats, an iPad, a glass of wine and a phone. My children also complain I rarely go out. Who would?
Both of my sons get distinctly irritated if I do dress up to go out somewhere. It’s usually a work banquet or something, and I’ll make Christopher’s girlfriend, Pam, 20, help me choose outfits. If I show any more skin than an Amish grandmother, I get yelled at by the boys. And they wonder why I never go out. One time I flew past the rec room, and Christopher detected a push up bra. “Going to get me a new Daddy?” he yelled after me.
When all else fails, I’ve noticed another terrifying strategy sneaking in. An ad came on TV the other night, with the tagline, “live at home longer”. It’s for a walk-in tub, intended to making bathing safer for those who might become frail as they age. Pam looked up from her homework.
“Oh! I want one of those!” she exclaimed. “That would make it easier for me!” We have a new freestanding bathtub with a slightly raised base. I love it. I’m tallish. Pammy is not. She is wee.
“It’s intended to let people live at home longer. I do not want any of you living here a moment longer than is absolutely necessary,” I replied calmly. Years ago, Ari, 18, saw an ad for a stair lift; a little chair that zips you up your stairs when you can no longer negotiate them. He thought it would be fun. I realized then he’d never leave home, and kyboshed the idea.
Sometimes I adopt an if-you-can’t-beat-‘em-join-‘em approach. The other night at dinner, the mood was high and it reminded me of the many spirited dinners we use to have when the boys were small and would laugh until milk came out of their noses. Barely able to speak as he laughed, Ari said something.
“You’re so gangster,” I replied, laughing. There was instant silence at the table. Then groaning.
“Mom, that is terrible. Don’t do that,” said Ari. Christer’s eyes widened in horror. I looked to my ally, Pam. She was laughing so hard she was crying. She couldn’t even speak.
“Ellen said it! You thought it was funny when Ellen said it!”
“Ellen is cool. You are not cool.” I had a terrifying flashback of my mother giving a rude driver a thumb’s up, believing she was flipping him the bird.
I don’t even know why they want to live here.