Last summer, my husband and I had to adjust to a temporary house guest for three months. My daughter came home to spend the summer before leaving for Israel for a year. We had just gotten used to the deafening quiet, the full pantry and being able to keep a schedule of our own. The only one depending on us for the fulfillment of personal needs and attention was our eight year old Labrador mix, and he preferred to sleep. I liked that.
When our kids were in high school, we laughed about the fact that we needed a revolving front door, three sets of car keys and a lot of caffeine so that we could remain awake until the last one was in safely for the night. Teenaged drivers did, after all, have a reputation to uphold. That’s why we pay such high auto insurance rates on them until they turn twenty-five. My son, the sociology major and psychology buff told me that the brain isn’t fully developed until that time, and the last thing to mature is the area of the brain that governs “good sense” and “decision making.” (He had to simplify it for me— I’ve been out of school for a long time.)
We also got used to doing only two or three loads of laundry a week, watching whatever we wanted, whenever wanted, on the television, and planning menus to suit our tastes. We didn’t have to pick up after anybody. (Even the dog has learned to put his toys away, believe it or not.) We only picked ourselves up to go out to restaurants of our choosing.
It was nice.
She was a college graduate, magna cum laude, I might add. She had designs on taking a year off from school, spending it in Israel, and getting in closer touch with her religious, spiritual and historic roots. She was keeping Kosher. For anyone who is unaware, kashrut is the system of dietary laws of the religiously observant Jew. They are strict and they are specific. That was fine with us. We attempted in every way to oblige, without sacrificing our own choices. This meant a change in the meats that we bought, the pots and pans that we used, and even the restaurants we frequented. No problem.
Maddy’s music blared through the house. It was different than it used to be. It was Israeli. It was spiritual. And it was loud. Some things never change.
Clothing was left in the dryer. Dishes left in the sink. Boxes of cereal left on the counter. We even had to make extra coffee now, because she was, after all, a young woman who drank coffee. The first time I realized this was when there wasn’t any left for my second cup on a Sunday morning.
I’ve heard the expression, “Men plan and God laughs.” I’ve used it myself. I would ask her if she would be home and plan dinner accordingly. Fifteen minutes before I was ready to serve, she would say, “I’m sorry, I forgot to tell you… I made last minute dinner plans with so-and-so and then we’re going to such-and-such and I’ll be back sometime tonight.” So my husband and I would eat quietly, this lovely kosher meal, and retire to the den to watch television. Plans change. You learn to adjust.
Waiting up for her was another issue. Yes, she was twenty-two, and certainly able to take care of herself. Yes, she was a good, safe driver. She even would call or text to let us know she got where she was going safely. But we would still worry, and wait. Late at night I would send her a text, asking when she expected to be home. She would answer, and I would respond by climbing into bed and waiting to hear her key in the door.
It was nice.