I sat in the passenger seat as my youngest son drove to the meet-up for his post-secondary, dual-enrollment classes. I failed at fully restraining from jamming the ball of my foot into the floorboard and from whispering the occasional “slow down.” The week before, my husband suggested that I drive him to his classes the first day. My over-protected son glowered, and I–veteran home educator of twelve years–felt my eyebrows furl. But, I was grateful for the opportunity to go on this ride-along to appease my husband, to acquiesce to my son, and to assure myself all would be well.
We arrived at the location ten minutes early as this son and I prefer to appear at any scheduled event. And we waited. Soon car doors from other vehicles opened, and parent-child pairs emerged. We entered the picnic shelter and received the first announcement.
“Parents, you are welcome to stay, but you don’t need to if you’d rather go get a cup of coffee.”
I looked at my son and asked, “Do you want me to stay?”
He raised his right eyebrow and shrugged. “If you want to. I don’t care.” I would have been offended if I hadn’t seen the left corner of his mouth tilt upward.
“I’ll see you later then,” I said.
I glanced back at him, but my feet pointed toward the car as my fingers found the spare key in my purse. With GPS directions to the nearest coffeehouse, I drove away from where my near-adult baby stood, his back already turned from me to face his new adventure.
I was fine with that. Really. What bothered me more was, “What am I going to do?” I guessed I could read on my phone, but that seemed so unprepared and lonely. I even ignored the GPS directions because I knew somewhere around…YES! A Barnes and Noble! Books and coffee! I entered almost-heaven and imagined myself sipping a delectable mocha while writing.
I had determined before exiting the car that I would find a new journal or a book of writing prompts. I shielded my mental eyes from the probable, unused stack sitting in my office bookshelf. After all, one journal had been finished last week, and one would be finished this week. My life as full-time homeschool-mom had shifted to homeschool counselor and administrator. It was time for some self-help and personal reorganization.
I found what I was seeking not far from the front door. Flipping through the options, I vacillated between an illustrated trendy journal with a coffee cup on the front cover and a basic, no-frills one with 300 prompts. I decided to carry them around while I decided which one I wanted. I wandered through some of my favorite sections and grabbed a packet of pens as I passed the writing instrument kiosk. In the reference area, I found another journal focused on poetry. Liking the variety of ideas, I headed to the cashier, still holding the other two books and the pens. I justified the purchase more as I thought about all the homeschool curriculum I would not be buying this school year.
As I made my way to the Starbucks counter, my text alert sounded. “We’re done,” was the message from my son. Happy with my choices while wishing I had a few minutes to at least open the pen package, I ordered my coffee and headed back to the park.
All smiles, he told me about the kids he had met and the ones he recognized from the college orientation a month earlier. I was glad he remembered their names as I recalled the preschool years when “new friends” at the park all had the names “Guy” and “Girl.”
We went to our favorite local restaurant where the waitress knows my son’s order by heart. We chatted. We ate. We glanced at our phones.
At one point, I said, “Should I be sad you didn’t need me today?”
Again the shrug and quirky smile.
Sensing the poignancy of the moment, I said, “So, when you’re a full adult and have a family of your own, will you still want Mom-time?”
I love how my guys ask for Mom-time. The day before I had taken my middle son out for lunch. Even my oldest son who is living out of state checks in at least once a week.
As if reading my mind, he said, “I guess it depends on where I live.”
“How about if I call you and ask for Mom-time?”
This time he didn’t shrug when he gave me his quirky smile.