In yet another example of how time flies and how surreal it is to have grown children, we moved D into his first solo apartment over the weekend.
He hasn’t lived at home full time for four years now (!!!!), spending the first three years in the dorm and this past year in a house with several of his friends. After graduation they all started to go their separate ways and he needed to find his own place.
Jim and I drove up to Wisconsin to help him move, and we were secretly-not-so-secretly thrilled to find out that he had rented a truck the night before and had friends help him move the heavy stuff. We got the remainder of his belongings moved in two car trips, and made a stop at Target to get some essentials, like a “dining room table” (actually we just got him an inexpensive, foldable-slash-portable table to use for now) and two folding chairs, a set of dishes, cleaning supplies, shower curtain, and all kinds of other things that people never realize they’re going to need until they actually move into their first place. Plus, groceries. (More on that later.)
After we unloaded our cars for the second time, we helped him get a few things assembled and ready-to-use. While he and Jim set up his bed and the television, I was in the kitchen unpacking the Target bags and washing his new dishes and utensils.
I didn’t put anything away—with the exception of shoving paper towel rolls and empty Target bags into one cabinet to get them out of the way—because if there’s anything I’ve learned over the years with him it’s that my Type A is better off staying out of the way of his Type A.
We are very similar in a lot of ways (high-strung at times, perfectionist, attention to detail, having plans for plans, OMG I’m sorry, son!) and in order to cut out some head-butting I have learned to back away slowly before necessary in most situations. I try to follow the advice that Cliff Huxtable gave to Elvin that one time: I just put my hands in the air and zip it. My job is to GET OUT.
Sometimes I slip, but can usually recover with a gentle reminder. We were sitting in the apartment eating lunch and I can’t remember what valuable words of wisdom I was attempting to impart, but it started with “If I were you I’d…” He nodded and said very nicely, “No, I don’t think I’m going to do that. But thanks for your sage advice.” (Yes, he really said that. Sage advice!)
He’s twenty-two, an adult. My way isn’t the only way, and even if I have proven for myself that something works or that there’s an efficient way for getting something done, he has the right to test out his own theories.
Coming to that realization over the past few years has been difficult at times (old habits die hard!) but extremely freeing for me. I am a little more relaxed when it comes to matters of his that don’t involve me directly, and I feel his appreciation for this new level we’ve achieved in our mother-son relationship.
Sidenote: there was one point on which I would not back down. When we took him grocery shopping and the cashier asked if he had the store’s discount card and he said “no”, she asked if he wanted her to use her card and he said, “no.” I piped in, “YES, HE DOES. THANK YOU.” Even the bagger said, “Dude, what do you have against saving money? GEEZ!”
He’ll learn. I mean, MONEY.
Soon it was time for us to get back on the road to home. After helping him unpack his groceries we left an extremely happy young adult on his own, ready to enjoy his first evening in his very own apartment, all by himself. I think we all felt pretty amazing about it.