If you passed by our house recently you might have heard the 80’s band Queen rockin at our door. They were not here, but strains from one of their more popular songs could be heard coming from the doors and windows. In the basement the renter chanted to a definite beat:
Are you ready,
Are you ready for this
Are you hanging on the edge of your seat
Out of the driveway my truck zips
To the sound of the beat (unh, unh, unh, unh…he slaps the hard side of the suitcase for the beat)
He banged around down there for hours trying to get ready.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen, the mother could be seen pumping her arms and singing loudly:
Another one leaves the nest (clap, clap)
Another one leaves the nest (clap, clap)
And another one gone, and another one gone (mother pumps fist in air)
Another one leaves the nest (Oh, yeah…hip thrust to the beat)
Whoa! I’m gonna drive you there!
Another one leaves the nest (clap, clap, hip thrust, hip thrust).
The basement renter has flown the coop! I drove him across the country last week and dropped him off. He has a job, a place to live, friends, siblings, other relatives, and some money saved up. It was time. Yes, I am going to miss him terribly as we had actually become friends the past three winters that he lived in the basement. Not great friends, mind you, but good friends. We visited a lot and only rarely did I have to raise “the mother flag” and threaten to raise rent or cut off the food supply. We laughed and had fun together and if I needed someone to go with me to run errands, he was always willing to ride shotgun.
My basement renter is not perfect and he has his little habits that drive me nuts, but his redeeming mark is that he always says “Thank You.” I could serve corn dogs on a paper plate and he would say “thank you.” If I moved his wet clothes from the washer to the dryer, he said “thanks.” In a house full of kids, a simple “thank you” goes a long way. In a world full of crazy ideas, “thank you” goes a long, long way.
It is difficult to let our kids go out into this world, even if we have done it multiple times. There is so much out there that we want them to be careful of. We don’t want them to get tangled up in messes that will leave lifetime consequences and yet, we want them to live their own lives and to give back to their communities as responsible adults. To do that we must let them go.
Letting go can be difficult. However, I have learned, from letting the other kids go, that he will call back in a few days. Something will come up in his new world and he will call. “The hamburger meat is a little gray. Can I still use it?” or “Hey, do you have a copy of my birth certificate? They say they have to have it or I don’t get a new license.” Or something along those lines. He WILL call. And in the meantime, the other siblings, will call and report. Some things never change.
Letting go is so necessary and yet, there are moments in the process when it all comes rushing back and your basement renter is six years old again and handing you a wilted dandelion. That happened to me at the bank. Yes, the bank. We went in to deposit his money and set up a new account. As I watched a young man fill out forms and hand over cash, all I could see was a little boy nestled in my armpit. It all started with a tear. One little tear that called to others to come join it. Soon I had tears running down my face. I was being quiet but I was flat-out bawling, trying not to embarrass him. He turned from the forms and saw me.
“Mother, what in the.., mom, mom, are you OK?” He reached over to stroke my arm. He looked at the young man helping us fill out forms and lifted his shoulders. He looked back at me.
All I could do was smile at him. I couldn’t even tell him why I was crying. I fanned my hand back and forth in front of my face and we all laughed.
On the way out he said, “Good grief, Mother. What was that all about? You know I’m gonna be OK.”
I nodded and sniffed. I didn’t try to explain because one day, hopefully, he will have a son or daughter and then he will know exactly why a parent can be completely sane one moment and bawling the next.
P.S. He called while I was writing this article.