It’s still early…. well, early for my guys. I’ve been up since M left for work and, since I don’t work today, I’ve been going slowly about my day. Making coffee, catching up on emails, planning out errands, and generally enjoying the peace that rests in this house when no one else is up or around. I’ve cheated and kept a string of white lights on a fake ficus tree in the corner of the living room so those are the only lights on. They’re like having a little piece of Christmas around throughout the year.
The hard part for me will be when both boys leave again for college on Sunday. I have them home for a few short days and then the chaos of school, classes, and sports will take over again. I’m not worried any longer about having them leave…. they always come back. It’s just the small readjustments that need to happen to take up the gap between being a daily family of four in this household and a daily family of two. Cooking for Two? I thought that was a joke… something that only “old” people did… certainly not something that my dearest and I would be doing in the middle of our life together. I love having the boys around. Love that they feel comfortable bringing friends to come over any time. I’ve always wanted that sort of home… and have been “training” for it before we had completed our family…. really!
I’m known to be a planner and I can be extremely focused when planning things that are really important. Take being a parent. If you read my “About” section, you know that I planned to be a parent long before I ever was one. It was the same with how I envisioned our home and family life.
When M and I first married, he was a Navy pilot, stationed at NAS Pax River, MD. I learned a great deal about being a good mom and an involved spouse/parent during that duty station. Wives were left for long periods of time while (primarily) husbands deployed and flew missions. During those times we did a lot of bonding…learning how to be a “wife”, raising children, talking, venting, and generally using one another as sounding boards for our lives. The wives club, since we lived on base, was my life and my social circle. I saw, by example, visions of marriage that I did and did not want. I realized this was a choice… I could create any sort of home for my husband and my children that I felt fit us best. When our next duty station was assigned, I knew I had my opportunity.
Our second (and final) duty station was at the Naval Academy. M was stationed in the sailing department and would teach as needed. We were offered base housing just outside Gate 8 at USNA and were thrilled. With our move scheduled for June/July, I proactively called in April about becoming Midshipman Sponsors. The gentleman who answered was a bit taken aback by my request. Being firm, I asked to have three plebes (freshman) assigned to us.
“Three??” he asked. “Why three??” My response was this, “If you assign us one plebe, we’ll sit and stare at him all day. If you assign us two, it’ll be our luck that they won’t get along. If you assign us three plebes, we’ve got a chance in hell that two of them getting along”. We were, thankfully, assigned three plebes that summer. He also asked if we preferred male or female midshipmen. I explained that I already had a son and planned to have another child soon after we arrived (though I wasn’t pregnant yet) and felt that this was my opportunity to learn how to be a mom of boys…. girls would inevitably come over, but the boys would be part of our home. As it so happened, we were assigned three male midshipmen and then ended up with a few more that seemed to gravitate to our apartment, for one reason or another.
Through this experience I learned some valuable lessons. I believe I was made to be a “boy mom”. I can tie a gorgeous bow and play Barbies with the best of them, but I much prefer sports to playing dress up. My house will probably always be cluttered, a little dusty, and comfortable. My boys know that they can bring anyone over at any time of the day or night. I’m never without the ability to make some sort of sweet (cookies, brownies, etc) to feed hungry boys and their friends. While the Navy was teaching my husband a myriad of useful skills, that same Navy was teaching me how to live. I learned that it’s never going to be about how clean you keep your house… it’s about taking the time to show those in your life just how much they mean to you. I try to live that way each day… personal connections are what sustain people on whatever path they are traveling. A kind word… eye contact… a smile…. each one can go a long way to making someone else’s day just a little bit brighter.
Sometimes, looking at the past can allow us to recognize the most precious blessings of our lives…