the unmade bed


This morning, I woke to an empty house. I’ll admit I love the sense of infinite possibility a morning alone in the house can bring.  But today I padded through the silent house, searching for my children’s presence. I found it in their carelessly abandoned beds: the crumpled pillows, the tangle of sheets, the still-escaping warmth. 

On another day, I might have been annoyed.  I have been known to rant about the activities required to successfully pass as an adult or, at the very least, to keep a girlfriend from dumping you. I have seen my boys’ failure to practice any housekeeping tasks on a daily basis as a reflection of a flaw in my mothering. 

Today I was not annoyed. Instead, I was grateful for the messy proof of their daily, ongoing and careless existence in my life.   Sometimes I think that mothering is a matter of riding two tidal pulls: one sweeps my children away from me, the other keeps them close.

After Oldest leaves for college, it will probably be left to me to make his bed.  I’ll smooth his sheets, float his duvet up above the empty mattress and punch his pillows into shape.  And the truth is, I will be happy to do it. 

I figure there are some things they’ll just have to learn from their girlfriends.

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