The boys are going back to school and I’m weeping. Again. I know. I know! We’ve already ascertained I’m a hypocrite of the worst kind. Can’t be happy when they’re here … can’t be happy when they leave.
I was helping my younger son get ready to go and was meticulously folding his clothes so he could unceremoniously shove them all into a green Hefty bag for transport. Apparently, no male college student uses luggage. Green Hefty’s say you’re laissez faire, you’re a free spirit, you’re ready for anything, you’re lazy and dirty.
My older son walked into the room and stopped dead. He was incredulous. “I cannot believe you’re helping him pack!” he whined. “Last year, you literally walked by my room when I was getting ready to go and said: “Don’t take my good towels”, then sent me on my way! You would never fold my clothes for me!”
This is the story as old as time. At 20 and 22 they still think each other is the #1 favorite. The fact of the matter is they are all my favorites but for completely unique reasons and they know it. Because Patrick never asks for anything, it makes me want to do more for him — like fold his clothes and not kick him in the kidney when he gets home at 2 a.m. He’s easy. The other son is also easy but in a different way. It’s hard to explain but every mother since Ma Barker gets it.
At any rate, as I type this, Patrick and his green Hefty’s are ready to hit the road all the way back to West Virginia. His brother will follow suit, to a nursing program in NYC. Neither of them understand why I am a twisted pile of conflicting emotions. They cannot decide if I want to beat them with their dirty, sewer-smelling underwear or shower them with hugs and kisses. They know I’m Sybil and they must approach delicately.
I will know the house will soon be without male offspring in several ways.
1. The first telltale sign is always the smell. It will smell like a home again and not a bacon factory with a broken toilet.
2. My laptop will not go missing and be found several hours later next to the toilet. Apparently, a resume is best done while defecating.
3. I will not need a putty knife and Dremel to pry loose whatever it is they spit down the sink after brushing.
4. There will be no very expensive men’s “molding paste” melting into the seat of my car, scarring it forever with a product that could have easily been substituted with Dippity Do or Apricot Preserves.
5. The entrails of nail clipping everywhere! Gone! They clip their nails in front of the television, at the dinner table, in the car at a stoplight, and inexplicably — on top of my comforter. I thought I had weevils, but no, just nail clippings.
So here we are again. Yet another fork in the road. When will we just come to a spoon in the road? You know, a life where I know what’s happening and where everyone is heading and I can lie my head on my pillow at night and not feel conflicting emotions of sadness vs. relief? A destination where everyone’s school loans are paid off and they’re all happy, healthy, employed and scattering their own nail clipping when they go to bed at night. A world where Hefty bags hold garbage and not every one of their belongings. A life where I can unclench and write this column on a computer that doesn’t have to be retrieved from the back of the toilet.