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9:44 a.m. - 2011-08-12
On the job.

Wolf comes back today. I'm shocked by how much I missed him. I think it was the lack of phone contact. This is the first time he's gone away and been out of reach for such a stretch of time. Even Yellowstone has better cell service than where Wolf's been this week. Say what you like about the intrusiveness of cell phones and the people who behave badly with them (I agree), but the peace of mind from being able to talk to my son no matter where he is is fabulous.

When the third day passed and I'd not heard from him and my call went unanswered I flipped out a little. Tried to laugh at myself by thinking of parents a 100 years ago who packed up kids Wolf's age and sent them off to America to escape persecution or conscription and had to deal with the horrible knowledge they would probably never see their child again. The best hope was for was letters. Letters that could take months and months to arrive. And here I was going bonkers because for three whole days I hadn't spoken with my son who was only 30 miles away and due home by week's end. I also knew the machinery was in place that if anything did happen I'd be told pretty darn quick. Worst case scenario, the state police would be at my door if I hadn't been reached by phone. So, in this case no news was definitely good news.

I joke that I dream of having an empty nest like others dream of lotto winnings. It's true I'm bending my life toward the day when I can stop being in charge of anyone's welfare except my own. Turns out I'm not quite as ready for that as I thought. With Wolf gone I was more than a little lost. I had that "I'm forgetting something" feeling and kept patting myself down and checking the stove and the coffee maker and jumping up to go get Wolf at work-study or meet his bus or check his thoughts on what to have and when to serve dinner. And there was no Wolf. Ouch.

This week wasn't all wailing mommy anguish, I enjoyed the freedom to walk around unclothed as much as Mick did. (My guy is a secret nudist.) Mostly it was not having to suit up to make a nighttime potty run that we liked most. I swear, the ONE time when Wolf was home that I made a 2:00am dash to the can clad only in my panties and there he was coming downstairs just as I was going back up. Impeccable timing. We are not an excessively modest household, but the older Wolf gets the more clothes I wear. It's a privacy thing, not a 'bodies are gross and sinful' thing. Heck, I'm so private I close the door to the bathroom when I'm alone in the house.

Another perk to being sans child was making whatever we wanted to eat. Nutrition Mom was off-duty. Well-balanced meals…feh. The only green thing on my table this week was salad. And Mick's key lime pie. Which is actually yellow anyhow. Without the onus of feeding a growing son a proper meal and setting a good example for him we gorged on steak every night and I put salt on everything and Mick dipped his potato chips in the Worcestershire sauce. We talked with our mouths full and slouched in our chairs. I'd not realized before what a premium I put on good table manners. If at his own table later on Wolf chooses to eat like a beast that'll be on him and not because he wasn't taught any better.

I know the family dinner is chi-chi right now. Quality time and all that rot. But I've always served sit-down meals on a nicely set table. Meals that are eaten with our manners on and the TV off. A grace note in an otherwise busy and fragmented day. There's no finger bowls or anything and I doubt Emily Post ever tries to burp the alphabet (as we do occasionally) but dinnertime at Casa Sage is apt to be slightly more gracious than wolverines at the kill.

Wolf's being gone also made me aware of how little responsibility he has around here. His absence was a blip on the chore radar. The cat box didn't get emptied every day, bfd. I need to remedy that. Chores are good for kids. Teaches them good work habits. Plus doing chores gives them a peek at just how f-ing boring it is to be a grown-up. This shouldn't be left to come as a horrible surprise later on. It'd be irresponsible of me to send him off into the world as a clueless bobo too. At the very least he should know how to clean, cook, and process laundry. More esoteric things like how to keep a well-stocked fridge and pantry he'll have to figure out on his own. I could quack all I want to about having staple foods on hand and spice freshness and eating the oldest eggs first and milk expiration dates, but at 14 Wolf's interest in thrifty household management is nil. Oh, he'd listen agreeably enough but it'd skid right off, so why bother? Better I should spend my energy (and Wolf's limited attention to anything I have to say) on more basic and practical stuff. Important things like shutting the damn door behind himself when the a/c is on and that toilet paper gnomes are a myth. Fresh rolls are put on the spindle by human hands.

My boy should be home by mid-afternoon at the latest and I am stoked. Can't wait to hug him and see his sweet face. The other kid is rumored to be coming down today too. But whatever. He'll come and go at his father's and I won't see him except maybe as a blur going down the driveway. Which is fine. Whatever's wrong can stay wrong. I don't think either of us is wanting a big messy Jerry Springer thing right now. At 26 he doesn't need a mother anyhow. At least not a broke one with no spare cash to hand out. The only real use any grown child has for parents. The younger one, however, I'd like to believe still needs me for more than money. Or maybe it's just me who needs him. Either way I'm glad Wolf's coming home today and am already planning that nutritious well-balanced dinner.

Fully dressed and happily returning to duty again, ~LA

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