When I was expecting my third child, my older two, both boys, were almost two and three years old. (Yes, we did plan that.) I wasn’t hoping for a girl. Healthy was good enough for me. So, when I discovered in the sonogram that the third was a boy, too, I was in no way disappointed. How cute they’ll all be, I thought. And that was undoubtedly the case. Life with them has been so incredibly imperfect, wonderfully full, and unmistakenly fun! So many years and a lot of new white hairs later, now they are 19, 21 and 22 years old, I find myself often sitting and just thinking about them. I miss them terribly when they are not home. I worry that they aren’t eating as healthy as we taught them. I wonder when I’ll be able to hug them again. I wonder when we’ll share just one more heart-to-heart. I wonder if they are choosing kind people to be around, people who will love and respect them at least a fraction of how much me and their dad have done for the last nearly twenty-three years.
COVID 19 has changed life for everybody. Our predictable and safe lives from before are no more, and they may never exist as they did six months ago every again. Re-inventing a new life has become the goal of the entire human race. So be it.
Circumstances have been on my side, though, at least through my eyes. My husband, who is a Chief Engineer for Royal Caribbean, is home because he was already home on holiday before the lockdown, and cruise ships aren’t sailing. And, at the moment, companies cannot embark or disembark anyone without individual and specific permission from the CDC. Coincidentally, my oldest son was here on holiday from Iceland, where he’s lived for almost three years, and he’s been with us since Italy went into lockdown. So, since the beginning of March, we have all five been home, and it is now lasting months. Staying at home this long all together hasn’t happened since the boys were very young. What a lovely idea!
When the boys were very young, though, they could easily be distracted, entertained and amused by various things that I happen to like very much. Baking cookies, cakes, pancakes and waffles are a few of our culinary favorites. Taking a walk outside was always a favorite. Chilling out and watching the latest films was always an excellent choice, popcorn a prerequisite, of course! All those merely simple things were enough for them then.
My boys have gotten pretty complicated these days, and I’d be lying if I said I’m not sure I know when that happened. I’ve seen it slowly happening throughout the years. As a result, they don’t want me to help them cook or bake. They can do those things without my help. Instead of taking strolls around the woods near our house, they head out on their motorcycles with a frisbee, the huge speaker and other outdoor supplies (that would be food!). And their idea of watching something on tv is watching “Reservoir Dogs” or “Full Metal Jacket,” which, I deem necessary to admit, are two of the best films ever made. In my opinion, however, they are not precisely the kind of pick-me-up film one needs in times like these. And, as an alternative to a nightly film, they have implemented the new tradition of playing poker. Yeah, poker, which I had never played before. Luckily, through our travels around the world, we have a massive selection of international currencies in all shapes, sizes and colors, so playing for real cash is out of the question. We even have a few coins with holes in right in the middle of them. (Thanks, Denmark, for allowing added, yet limited, conversation to our poker table!) They’re attempting to grow a real moustache, so they’ve got that Zorro look going for them. They won’t let me cut their hair, and they’re starting to look pretty raggedy. Luckily, there is a tv on a different floor of the house far from me dedicated to their Playstation. I figured out around middle school that video games were going to be a part of life, limited, at least. They’ve even created a new tradition of planet-gazing! Nino is our future astrophysicist. So, he drags his brothers outside to search for who-knows-what around the universe. They do that after 11 pm usually, so that rules me out, seeing that I’m up at six or seven every morning. And, to add heat to the fire, they’ve discovered a channel on Sky called Blaze, and, now, life has become even weirder because we’ve got “Battle Bots” going on in my living once or twice a day. Seriously?! “Bite Force”?! “Bronco”?! That’s not exactly what I would designate as positive evolution in artificial intelligence. And, to make matters even worse, they keep wearing baseball caps INSIDE my house! What is that?!
My entire house has become one giant, massive man cave! Everywhere I go, and every place I see, my life has been taken over by four grown men. My life has turned into watching these four men maneuver themselves around my once femininely pleasant and sweet atmosphere. Now, I am reduced to “hiding” away in my room to watch “Pride and Prejudice,” bake cookies alone (until they’re hot-out-of-the-oven and boy do they come running!), watch the room vacate the moment I stick Yanni on the speaker and roam around my house singing to myself.
But, in the end, I can’t remember the last time I felt so happy at home. We take turns preparing meals every day. We sit and talk before and during meals, and then we We work out in the garden together building a Texas-style fire pit. I can tell who’s coming up the stairs by the way each of their steps sound. I can hear their trio of chatting and laughing into the wee hours of the night. We are all safe, and we are all together at our home. I can’t think of anything in the entire world better than that, man cave and all.