By Craig Hastings
I’ve discovered what I’ve believed for the past nine years to be true. I’m a parent that never knew when it was time to change as my children changed. Nine years ago I divorced. Fortunately, both of us remained living in Tuscola. This made it convenient sharing the responsibilities of our two sons’ needs. Even though I was on a schedule most of the school year to share in the transportation duties including medical appointments, at the end of the day I wasn’t around to share in the household duties required to raise two young boys. Payton and Lukas had equally furnished bedrooms including clothing at both homes. I always tried to have all of their favorite snacks and drinks on hand should a surprise visit occur. Throughout the past nine years the boys have done a pretty good job sharing their time between our two households. I’m proud to say that not one time did their mother and I argue over where the boys were going to be on what days, nights, or holidays.
During the summer school breaks, Lukas would spend more time with me than during the school year which kept me in practice with additional laundry loads, grocery store visits, and picking up around the house. May 2019 was a big month for the boys and how the month reflected on me. In the same week Payton graduated from High School, Lukas got his driver’s license. They would now both be mobile. Add to this on July 11, Payton would no longer be bound by the Illinois Graduated Driver’s License curfew rule. He had been complaining for months about the ball and chain he dragged around because of his driving curfew. Me, I enjoyed the sense of security it caused, so I knew just when he had to be home and out of his car. Of course I never saw the need for my one year curfew when I was 16! Fortunately for Tim, Jake, and me, we only had to wait one year before being able to cruise until dawn of the next day!
Fast forward to now, and where are my boys? Well, they have both been staying with me most of the time since the end of May. I was mentally unprepared and certainly out of practice of being a full-time parent! Their mother and her husband found a country property they fell in love with, but it’s about a 20-minute drive one way from town. With summer in full swing and both driving now, it’s been more convenient to pit stop at my house between outings than to drive out into the country each time. So, what’s the big deal? I should pick-up right where I left off nine years ago, right? Two boys then, and two boys now. Are you kidding? Everything has changed times two, except laundry loads, which is now times three. Shannon or I are doing at least one load every day and three on weekends and one of us are always going to the store. The material mass of the boys clothing has obviously changed immensely. Also, the amount of consumable goods needed on hand each day in my home has doubled with some of the more one off items multiplied by three. Both boys are working so suppers and lunches also need to be coordinated to schedules of each. Something else not done around here for nine years. And eat, they do!
So where have I slipped? Understand when they left this house as full-time residents I was sharing doing everything for them. Well, I still feel the need to be doing everything for them or as much as I can. Their big boys, young men, and I should put some of their everyday care back on them right? I’m not. I go into their bedrooms every afternoon when I get home from work and collect dirty laundry, food bowls, drinking cups, and pickup anything else out of place. I make their beds, dust, and empty their trash. All the same things I was doing nine years ago if their mother hadn’t beat me to it. So why don’t I stop and remind them how old they are and they need to be doing all of these things?
I can’t, because I feel like I’m making up for lost time and on top of this I really don’t mind doing these things for them. I feel like a useful and productive parent again. Shannon reminds me I need to change a little, but at the same time she might be sorting through their laundry herself! So much for leading by example! I certainly had forgotten what it had been like for their mother for the past nine years. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a different kind of work. One of those “labor of love” things we hear about from time to time in our lives. In a couple of weeks school will start again for Lukas, and Payton, for now, will be working full time until he decides what path to follow with his own life. For now anyway, this will be one of my most memorable summers to date.
Both of my sons back in the home in which they were born to. We’ve relived some of the very things we did when they were little and living here full time. Payton will fire up the same ATV I used to pile both of them on with me back in the day and off he goes riding like a maniac and scaring me to death just like he did when he was nine. Each night they sleep in the same beds in the same rooms and snacking on the same foods they did nine years ago. It’s different for me when they’re here every day, and I feel the need to listen for them to return each night. I try my best to stay up until both are home and in their beds. It’s then I check all the windows and doors before I go to sleep myself. Right now it’s 1:10 a.m. on Friday night, early Saturday morning, and Payton just came home. He’s loaded his arms full of snacks and drink and headed for his bedroom. It’s a full house tonight, and all are accounted for including the two cats who are staring at me now so I’ll finish this up, check the locks, and go to bed myself. All is well now, goodnight.