The Room

“Do you have his room ready yet?” I can remember how the words hung over my head, ringing in my ears like a mantra, as my belly began to grow.
I made the stencils myself… Carefully printing out the cursive font on card stock and cutting them free with an exact-0 knife. I still have those stencils…. they are in such good shape, that I could paint, “The Cow Jumped Over the Moon,” again, in that pale yellow paint, adding a cow, a cat and a fiddle….

I remember that my mom, after the baby shower, was worried that I didn’t have enough crib sheets, so she took me to Wal-Mart to buy them.   The room was ready… it was perfect. I still have those sheets, along with the flannel blankets she made for us.  I remember now, questioning her, “why do I need so many of these?”  I can imagine that it sounded a bit “ungrateful” and “irritated.”  Not what I had intended at all, but I can see how it came across that way, and it must have hurt her… just like the things my kids say, that I don’t understand, that do hurt me.

And then, one day, I helped him pack his things, and we loaded the car, and off we went.

After he arrived at school, and he began unpacking his clothes, I realized that he had taken every stitch of clothing he owned. He noticed, however, that he forgot to pack his wool socks. Would I bring them the next time I came to visit? I looked outside at the bright sun, and wiped the sweat off my brow, and said, “Sure,” I can do that for you.
One  the white tiled floor was dusty and I was so disappointed. I thought the rooms would have been scrubbed over the summer.  And then, I had a flashback. The morning he was born, I sat down on the hospital bed, and looked at the white tile floor, and I saw a huge stain, dried, that was missed by both the nurses and the cleaning crew. I remember feeling so betrayed by the hospital by that… “You couldn’t even clean up for the arrival of my baby?”  And here was that same stain, all over again.

He was unpacked, and I made his bed, and he re-made it (blue linens, again), and then I re-made it (we couldn’t figure out the right position for his pillow).  My mom would of said, “I think one set of sheets is fine.”  We took him to dinner, just as it started to pour down rain, and we talked about how much fun he was going to have,
and repeated these things again, like a broken record:

  • Get up early.
  • Take advantage of the tutoring sessions.
  • Don’t skip class.
  • Sign up for intramural sports.
  • Meet every professor in the professor’s office, within the first two weeks of school,
  • Don’t walk alone anywhere off campus.

I’m sure we had more advice, but it’s gotten lost in time…

And then, we said goodbye. My mom isn’t here to help me finish the job that we started together. I kind of see this as a challenge — the heavens must of thought I would be fine without her, so I just roll up my sleeves, get to work, and try to think what she would think as I do my thing. Sometimes I end up just arguing with her in my head, exactly what I would do if she were here.

It wasn’t as “sad” as it seems now… but I remember, when he crossed the busy street, as we left the restaurant, I found myself trying to catch a glimpse of what this young man looked like in the world, not as my son, but I wanted to see what he looked like to strangers, Not the little baby boy I raised.

It was hard to see, among the cars that wouldn’t stop for me, but from what I saw, he looked good… amazing, really.

He didn’t look back, and that’s when I began to feel cheated. Robbed, is more like it. After all that investment and time loving him, and pouring my life into him, he just gets up and walks away?

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