It has begun…
With the final written exams, the last day of classes, the carefully chosen teacher gifts, the return to the now empty school building to pick up report cards, and the arrival of summer solstice and long evenings of twilight… summer has officially begun for us. And as much as I've longed for these days of non-committed hours and spontaneous relaxation, I have to admit that the first few hours have been riddled with anxiety.
Picture 6 - 16 year old boys in my living room playing COD4 and hanging their long legs over the edges of our couch and chairs. Picture the same boys texting and making phone calls, and eating and drinking and acting like they live here… which is what I thought I wanted to have happen just a few short days ago. Picture me standing awkwardly behind the couch, trying to be the charming host, offering up interesting conversation and getting very little response and absolutely NO eye contact. Picture my daughter looking at me with panic in her eyes, retreating to her room for a little quiet time, and my 13 year old son trying hard to fit in with his older brother and friends. Noise, testosterone, nervous energy, angst, stilted conversation and I soon retreat as well… to the laundry room to fold some clothes… feeling like the odd mother out for no real reason other than the voices in my head that tell me it is so.
Then the voice asks me what they are doing here in the first place, and a wee bit of resentment starts to build. And that's never a good thing.
There's an idealized picture in my head (and in my husband's head too, I think) of what we'd like our home to be. We want to be the place where our kids and their friends gather, where they want to be. We think that's a great gift to give our kids, and it works for us as well because we don't have to worry about where they are and what they are doing.
We talk about it, plan for it in how we build our home, invest in it (put in a pool last summer)… and it's all great in theory, but when it starts happening in real life… it's a bit scary. I feel so ill-equipped for the role of hostess to these 16 year old kids… and I don't know why. I'm not sure what to say or not to say… whether to give them space or whether to engage with them. I know food is needed, but I don't really know how to let them eat and spill and not clean up and not say thank you. When they are here in our home I feel like I don't belong here myself… which is not a great way to feel.
Anyway, the 16 year olds came and went and I survived, somewhat shakily and inadequately in my own mind. Today we are hosting a more manageable and comfortable and interactive 11 year old friend of my daughters… and that is just so much better. Albeit this child is more like a niece, but I don't feel the nervousness when she is here. And I have to admit I don't feel nervous when 13 year old's are here either. There's just something about those big boys that makes my heart beat faster and I'm going to have to figure out some way to get over these feelings fast.
My husband always thinks it's about the physical space we need to be together in one building… and sees the soon to be completed basement 'rec. room' as the solution to all of our problems. Then the gaming will take place one floor beneath me, the food will be spilled out of sight, and the long legs will have dedicated space to stretch out in. And sleepovers will even be possible - yikes!!!
Maybe that's the answer to everything… or maybe I just need to create a different kind of space in my head and in my heart for these big man-children who really don't mean me any harm, are just figuring things out socially, and who really just like having a place to hang out in, with a mom who asks odd questions and all. Maybe my capacity needs stretching… my grace a little exercise… just maybe…?
Quite often, it's actually me that needs to grow up!
3 days ago