Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Charlie's been home from school for a few days and while I have tried not to let him out of my sight, he's managed to find a successful hiding spot because, despite my efforts (bloodhounds, sonar--the usual), he's nowhere to be found. Below, I have posted a column written soon after our nest first became empty. Now, back to the search for Charlie--I think I hear something up on the roof....

Our Time

When people learn that both my boys are grown and on their own, many respond with some version of “Now it’s your time.” I always smile and nod, pretending to understand and agree but, truth be told, I have no earthly idea what to make of that statement. Our time? Our time to sit in front of the TV with canned soup and re-runs of The King of Queens—‘cause that’s what we’ve been doing a lot of lately.

Perhaps they mean that, since we have spent many years doing what the kids needed, it’s time to focus on things we enjoy.Well, we enjoy being with the kids. And we enjoyed watching soccer games in the rain and baseball in the wilting heat and sitting up, in the recliner, until we heard the tell-tale scrape of the garage door as they arrived home at all hours of the night. 

We recently took a road trip to Mystic Seaport in an attempt to explore this business of “our time.” It was a lovely day and Mystic was a-buzz. We wound our way from the main drag to some quaint side streets and noticed that there were two categories of people there--young families with young children and the retirees.We fit into neither group and became further unsettled as to our rightful and current place in this world. I became additionally confused when an elderly gentleman called to his wife from across a parking lot, “Honey, I can’t find the kids!” “See,” I said sadly to Seth, “they’re looking for their kids, too…” My husband’s response: “He said keys, not kids, you crazy broad.” Okay, he didn’t actually call me a crazy broad but it made me laugh when I wrote it.
After Mystic, we decided to continue this exploratory mission and hit Mohegan Sun. We immediately felt like teenagers once we arrived. Not because we were having a fabulous carefree experience in the dark, smoke-saturated casinos but because we were about forty years younger than the rest of the crowd. It definitely wasn’t “our time” in there.
I actually do, technically, understand what “our time” is supposed to be. I just haven’t been able to fully embrace it. I am lucky enough to enjoy my husband’s company very much but, honestly, what is the point of having kids if they leave you one day? So, we’ve tried an avant-garde approach. We have, with the cooperation of our sons, decided to include them. As a result, we’ve been socializing with them on a very different level. Meeting them places for dinner, speaking in hushed tones in museums, picking up concert tickets and spending the hours before the show exploring the city as four friends instead of two dominant leaders who make the decisions (I’m talking about the kids, here) and two helpless subordinates (yep, that’s us). This foursome also visits places from my childhood in Brooklyn and the early days of our marriage and we’ve found that the boys really do appreciate visiting the past through a funny story and a good laugh. One of the differences between now and then, however, is that they now hold my hand at busy intersections so I don’t run in front of cars.

My husband and I make a point of doing things as a twosome, of course-- a bit wistful that the boys aren’t with us but it’s getting easier. We have discovered the peace and pleasure of a drive up to Lake Waramaug with a quiet lunch along the way or a matinee on a Saturday afternoon.  Then we race home to call the boys and tell them about the movie. We are lucky that the kids tolerate this abject refusal to separate but have no doubt that occasionally they shake their heads and ask each other “Where did we go wrong?”

You can make anything you wish out of this “our time” thing. Some parents turn their kids’ rooms into home gyms or offices the minute they leave. Some prefer to lie on their children’s beds in the fetal position and hold forgotten teddy bears to their cheeks for hours at a time. It’s all okay. “Our time” is surprisingly flexible and forgiving. So, next time you see two young men running down the center of the road being chased by a woman holding a teddy bear to her cheek, just give a wave and move on---it’s “our time.”

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