My grown son and his fiancé are living with us temporarily. They just moved from Texas; she has a new job, he is looking for one and we offered to let them stay at our house while they get settled. We are, of course, thrilled to have them with us. It’s great to have our son back at home, to hear his comments on the morning newspaper’s sports section, to chat with him about current events. It’s nice to have the opportunity to get to know his fiancé even better. She fits in well with our family and it feels natural to have her with us. It’s a big house but there are a lot of people living in it (eleven right now) so I know that it will be important for our son and his fiancé to have some time to themselves. When they were moving their furniture into the garage for storage, I suggested that they put a love seat in their room so that they’d have somewhere to go for privacy. I’m trying to give them space and to treat them as the adults they are.
Yesterday there was ice on the road and I cautioned my son about driving on the ice. I suggested that perhaps it would be better if his fiancé rode in to work with my husband instead of our son driving her. His reply: “I know how to drive on the ice, Mother,” with the Mother pronounced Mo-ther. I felt a little hurt; I was only trying to be helpful. Then I recalled the summer after our sophomore year of college when my husband and I had been married for a year. We moved in with my parents for the summer so we could work and save money for school. We lasted only a month and a half before we changed our plans and moved to our own apartment. I loved my parents dearly and got along well with them. However, after living on my own for a couple of years, it was really hard to be back at home full-time. It wasn’t that my mom did anything that was wrong or invasive, but no matter what she did, it drove me crazy. I can see now that she was just being a mom, she was just concerned. It’s hard to turn that Mommy Switch off when it’s been used regularly for the last 26 years. Even with the realization that my son doesn’t need mothering, it’s hard to avoid having those natural tendencies jump out. I’m not sure if this realization will really change anything. I’m a mom; that’s part of who I am. This just reminds me that there are always new things to learn. For now, I’ll be working on learning how to step back even further, to be an on-call consultant rather than the boss.