Tim is home for Spring break! His big smelly shoes are by the door, his room is a mess, and I need to buy more milk. He is back under our roof, at least some of time, and my heart feels whole again.
He is spending most of his time with his brother Matt, but I have had all three kids around more this week than in most months now. I love having them around, making a mess and leaving glasses on windowsills and getting the dogs overexcited. I probably love it so much in part because I know how limited all of this togetherness will be. Tim’s visit is only a few days; he’ll be back in class by Monday. But even beyond that, I know that the years are speeding, and soon they will be married, and will be parents themselves, and we will only together for a few hours each year.
So every snack around the coffee table is a gift now. Every meal is a treat. And every “good bye” is a little sadder.
As I was talking to Tim about his weekend plans, I wanted to think about getting him back to the college. And I started to say, “When are you planning to go……”. My voice trailed off at that next word. I almost said “home” instead of “back”.
I wonder when “back” becomes “home”? Is it the moment when you start to pay the rent on your own place? The time when you store your out of season clothing under your own roof? Or is it the moment when “back” is the place where you want to be when you have the chills, or your heart is broken, or you don’t know what to do?
One day, too soon, my children will see “back” as “home”, and “home” will become, “my parents’ place”.
So I took a deep breath, and asked, “Tim. When do you need to be at school?”