Good thing I chose to tackle my teaching files tonite, cuz my ‘me time’ ends tomorrow. Elihu just mentioned it in passing as we talked tonite. Said that he was coming home tomorrow. Or the next day. He wasn’t sure. Although Fareed says he emailed me – and indeed it might have ended up in the spam folder – I knew nothing of it til now. Had planned a bunch of things this week, including a social visit with a friend I haven’t seen in a year. So that’s off now. Unless I can park Elihu at neighbor Sherry’s house (the grandparents’ house is too full of cats – Elihu, even doped up, can’t be there more than a half hour without serious fallout). I suppose that’s not such a big deal. But when I think of all the weeks spend with no plans at all, it bums me out slightly. Next my thoughts turn to the yard work and small repairs not quite finished yet and which remain on this week’s list. In summers past they might have been re-scheduled to another child-free time. But I remind myself that Elihu is a well-seasoned ten year old now, and whatever tasks I had left to complete I can likely ask for his help in doing. And if not, he’ll probably be so happy to be back home that I’m sure he can easily entertain himself while I finish up my work. Catching frogs and chasing chickens takes time, after all. I tell myself not to worry; it’ll all fall into place.
I realize also, that in my enthusiasm to get projects done around the house, I have neglected to put away his clothes. Piles of laundered clothing cover his bed. My intention was to have gotten to it by now, but turns out it’ll have to wait til he’s home. Which might be just as well; I can’t be sure that the pants that fit him in June won’t be floods by August. Might just be best to go through it all with him here. Then we can assess those tubs of hand-me-downs in the basement sent by the kindest of friends. We can take inventory of shoes, fall coats and winter boots. Yes, this I suppose – as much as I cannot fully allow myself to believe it – is the back-to-school season. The time of binder-buying, new shoes and instrument rentals. Thankfully, there’s a little bit of summer left – just enough for Elihu and me to enjoy the long-awaited Washington County Fair. We’ll have that time, then a tad more in which to switch gears. Get the sleep schedule turned back around. He and I have both been staying up way past midnight (however I’ve been getting up early each day) and so we’ll have to go from rockstar to school year hours. We’ve got enough time to do it comfortably, I think.
It took a good week after Elihu was gone until I realized that each night as I slept, I slept in a house all alone. In the beginning it gave me a stark, empty feeling. But then the solo groove kicked in, and now after more than four weeks of being alone, I’m quite used to it and I can easily say that I very much enjoy the solitude. There will definitely be a change in the energy of this tiny house tomorrow night – for both of us. Elihu’s been a whole lot of places in that tour bus, plus he’s come most immediately from a noisy-boy household, so his first night home might be a little too much quiet all at once. Maybe it will help that the crickets will sing for him as he sleeps, and that the roosters will crow for him nice and early when he wakes. And when I hear his breath at night, the gentle creaking of his bed when the house is dark, I will remember once again that my son is here with me. Safe, at home. And just a room away.
So much life has passed already that we don’t share; he’s had so many experiences he can never fully relate to me. I feel his life taking on its own shape now. He has so many memories that don’t include me. It almost seems he shouldn’t have had such a wide range of life without his mother at this tender age; it almost feels as if my college boy is coming home. But the voice I hear on the phone is still tiny. Still the voice of a young boy. He and I may both function out in the world quite well without each other, but still, I know that we both deeply enjoy living life side by side. I’m excited to see him, to hold him, to have him close again. What a happy surprise that you’ll be home so soon, my beloved Elihu.