What to expect, when you’re not expecting.

banner-photoThe gang (and me) at Good Robot, while Sara is working.

“Wanna watch Jim Gaffigan?” Simon asks.

“Na, let’s do Conan,” I answer.

Warren’s next. “What about Twilight? The second one?”

“I haven’t seen the first,” pipes in Teish.

Warren then launches into a Twilight plot summation, until interest is lost in lieu of whether or not to have ice cream.

And he accuses me of getting distracted by shiny, sparkly things.

When they finally figure out what they’re going to watch, but just before they settle in, they yell at me because the TV is too loud, and they can’t find the remote.

I am then number one on the where-did-you-put-the-remote hit list because, of course, the mom in every household knows everything, finds everything and puts everything away, specifically, so that no one can find anything, which brings me back to the remote.

I insist that I don’t know, six times, before they start feeling around between couch cushions.

“Warren! It’s right underneath you,” yells Tish.

Instead of apologizing to me, the guilty accused, Warren says, “Ma, Teish yelled at me, and we wanna a ice cream. Can you get us a treat?”

I haul myself off the couch and proffer a selection of either ice cream cone or bar. I did have another box of something or other, but apparently, Simon and Teish devoured it during Tuesday’s Cave visit.

Friends to Warren and Sara, Simon and Teish are moving back to Ontario on Saturday. I’d spontaneously invited them over for a last dinner, and they’d arrived with jammies, Toblerone chocolate bar  for me, and sad little faces. Only three sleeps left.

Geez, I’m gonna miss them.

*

Simon and Teish have spent plenty of lounge time in the cave, and I’d gotten to know them well over the last ten months. Many nights, they’d arrived before Warren was home from work. I’d shlumppled onto the couch with them, with deliberate intentions to slip down the YouTube rabbit hole, one of our favourite things to do when it’s the three of us.

Remote in hand, Simon’s job was to patiently search out hilarious new or worth repeating clips of Conan O’Brien (especially the ones with Jordan Schlanski), Amy Schumer, and sometimes Ellen, while Teish and I got to direct or advise which clip he should click. Occasionally, Simon added a random redux of Damn Daniel or Kazoo Child, in homage to the spirit of Rebecca Black’s, Friday.

Hours well spent, I believe.

Call my behaviour reverse maturity trajectory, semi-permanent arrested development, or an unabashed rendition of what I partake of in my spare hours. Or putting judgment aside, consider the alternate possibility that I’ve stumbled upon the mother load, a reoccurring role in an unaired TV sitcom, maybe even as its star, depending on how you look at it.

Let me step back.

*

Being family obsessed oriented, previous to now, I had the next-best mom thing pegged as being a gramma. Rumour had it that grandchildren are all of the fun, none of the work, supposedly, the set up allowing for the best of parenthood, minus the worst, since kids can be returned when cranky or a full night’s sleep, gramma-style, is in order.

Uh-uh, I’m not buying it. I strongly suspect it’ll be more a second go-round of poops, pukes and tantrums, rather than an exclusive opportunity to feed grandkids junk food and take them to the funnest-places-ever in efforts to be recognized as the favoured gramma, though obviously, I will do that too.

Look, I had parents helping me out with babies. And they launched my Fuzzy Peach-propelled sons back my to me looking worn-out and bedraggled, passive-aggressive mutters of “I’m too tired and old for this” under their breaths.

Oh, I recognize the sugar-induced hangover I had to deal for what it was, ill-disguised revenge.

These are the musings, anyway, that run through my mind whenever a son says, “Ma, you’re gonna help out when I have kids, right?”

Face it. No one wins in those years. It’s about getting through them.

All to say, I’m not rushing toward the gramma days quite yet, but who would’a thunk there might be a lovely epoch during my gap-year hiatus, nicely sandwiched between impending empty nest-syndrome and the gramma days?

*

Since July, I’ve been living with my almost 24-year old son, Warren. With him came the unexpected: A front row seat into 20-something land, with all of the fun and none of the personal mom-angst.

Yes. My move landed me into that fleeting, unremembered, sweet-spot, the 20s. Remember that time at all? Pre-marriage, pre-mortgage, pre-kids, heck, pre-real job for that matter.

Maybe it’s the teeny size of the Cave or my pulling back a bit from mom-ness that’s helped blend me into the woodwork and infiltrate this world as I seem to move about it easily, with all the annoying stuff, thankfully, behind me. It’s a paradise of post-diapers, post-puberty and post-lectures, but also pre the expected poop hitting fan of the next phase.

Not that I am the big bad wolfess or something, and I intentionally lure them to me, but it doesn’t hurt that 20-somethings are highly motivated by food and mom-cooking. Thus, I do entice them a la Gingerbread House, by fully loading the fridge with ice cream treats and beer, keeping the snack cupboard perennially topped up, and making enough dinner food for extras.

In return, I get to enjoy rich rewards and lots of ‘deets I’m not normally privy to, such as who did what, why and where including, but not limited to, tales involving: romance, Tinder, work, landlords, school, going out adventures and the inevitable consequences (a.k.a. hangovers), colds and flus, and all the related etcetera that arise amongst a group of young adult friends, living in each other pockets, before they permanently couple up.

While most of the action I see occurs in the cave. But sometimes, I do get invited to go out with them, though I must read and  respect the (sometimes) silent “Grrrrrr undertone in Warren’s voice when he occasionally lets me know he would prefer not to have his mom hanging out with him and friends. Again.

I get it. And even if I didn’t, my turn into pumpkin bedtime is approximately 10:30.

FYI I also willingly relinquish the sole couch in the Cave, along with the TV, if the number of visitors exceeds couch space or Warren lets me know it’s time I went to bed.

Look, it’s not like I’m evil or wanna be 20 again. I just know this unexpected epoch is time-stamped. The exodus for Ontario-based From Aways leaving Halifax forever, freshly minted degrees in hand, is nigh. Simon and Tish leave Saturday, as does another friend, Jocelyn. From there, it is countdown to September, when Warren and Sara will go too, and we must all get on with life, real life that is.

Me? They’ll be gone, all of them, while I will still be here, returned to empty nest syndrome (ick) and the quiet’ish life of woman sans husband, starting over and building a new life.

Trust that the Cave it will be terribly quiet.

*

At the table over dinner, Warren asks Simon and Teish for a round of best-time-hanging-out-together.

I listen to stories of their favourite hang outs, like the four-day sleepover when Sara and Warren stayed at Simon and Teish’s place cuz they just didn’t want to go home, and I silently remember a couple of my own. Like the night Simon got starry-eyed when Warren counted him as one of his best friend’s out loud or when Simon and Teish descended in the Cave, unannounced, because it was one of their most important stops for Simon’s birthday celebration.

And then they turn to me, all three shiny, happy faces.

“Karalee, what’s your best memory of us?” Simon asks.

Sheesh. When I moved here, my life was up for grabs. I had no idea what to expect or what might change.

I remember how, back in Waterloo, I used to need absolute silence to sleep at night. So when I went to bed, I shut the door to my room to make sure the kids’ talk and laughter, a flight or two below my second-floor bedroom, wouldn’t keep me awake. I think of the noise these days in my tiny, 500 square foot flat.

“Easy,” I say to the three of them. “My favourite memory is going to bed at night and leaving all of you on the couch, and falling asleep listening to you guys laughing and talking. It’s the best lullaby in the world.”

“Aw. I think I’m going to cry,” Simon says.

Me too, Simon. Me too.


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