Today I decided to stop trying to force a smile or a laugh. Instead I let the tears flow until there were no more. Danielle returned a week ago to Scotland for her junior year. Classes won’t start until next week, but she needed to get back to the life she created there and to all of her friends who make that life happy and whole. Nicole, gone three weeks, has already spread her quiet, but fierce, spirit to all corners of her university.
The biggest reminder that they are gone resides in the piano, the ebony timelessness of which graces our living room, right in the middle of our house. We bought the piano last year, a fruition of a dream to hear the children play on an instrument capable of creating such rich resonance.
Each daughter loves the piano in a way that is as different as one is from the other. Danielle will sit at the piano and play a variety of tunes, some from printed music, others by ear. Her style is casual and light. Late at night I might catch her tapping the keys quietly and singing along. Nicole plays with an intensity that matches her personality. We hear one or two pieces at a time, never more. Most are classical. She will play one measure over and over again until it is perfect. Slowly the melody builds until one day it echoes through the house, a song given wings.
Once I dried my tears I decided that enough was enough. I miss the girls terribly, but it was time to go forward. The first thing I did was sit at the piano, readying the music for today’s lessons. After all, our sons play, too.
This past Friday night I had a test run with Brian and our two sons, now age 12 and 14. Nicole is away at school and Danielle returns to St. Andrews in two days. Within a minute of being alone in the car with these three males, a loud explosion, followed swiftly by a noxious odor and raucous laughter, rocked me. My new adventure as a “boy mom” had officially begun.
While I adore our sons, the reality is that I have spent the past twenty years considering myself a “girl mom” who just happened to have two sons. This model has worked beautifully. I know how to parent our daughters 100% of the time and I’m pretty good with the boys 90% of the time.
You see, I never followed the cliché that “boys will be boys.” I demand that our sons put academics before sports and that their manners are impeccable. They both know how to cook well enough that my future daughters-in-law won’t hate me. This sanctimonious attitude has paid off…until now.
It seems there is a point in a boy’s development where all maternal influence flies out the window. My sister-in-law and I went to the NY State Fair a few hours ahead of the others this past Saturday. This meant that four boys, including a 5 and a 7 year old, and two dads were left unsupervised at the hotel. Within one hour our youngest son was stuck between the interconnecting hotel room doors. Luckily the hotel manager was there to get help, as she was visiting the rooms anyway to lodge a complaint about the noise.
I heard about the entire incident before these clowns arrived at the Fair, so I was able to work myself into an epic frenzy. Each of the males had an excuse. One was putting oil in the car and another was taking a shower. The youngest two told me that they had already been playing this game with the doors so it was OK. My 14-year old was indignant that I would assume he would show even a modicum of common sense as he was technically not in charge.
The bottom line for us moms is that we are not wired to anticipate every antic of which a boy is capable. The irony of the situation is that these boys will grow up to be fine men like their fathers, despite the antics. So, for now, I will buckle up and try to enjoy this new, wild ride.