The tools of my trade
I’m sitting here alone in my living room, watching Lark Rise to Candleford whilst stroking the smooth black quilting of my new acquisition, my pet Chanel. I spent the entire day cleaning the house to get ready for son, DIL, and sister wife. I know it’s juvenile to call my son’s wife’s sister, “sister wife”, but it annoys him and that makes it all worthwhile!
I think it started in 1998 when my son started college and moved just down the road a bit to have a “dorm experience” at UCSD. He lucked out with a nice boy for a roommate, but their room rapidly deteriorated. Landfill would probably be the best way to describe it. My son, the animal lover, left food outside his window for the birds, which of course brought rats, which of course he thought was cool, and kept feeding them until whoever was supposed to be in charge put an end to it.
I had gone to Bed, Bath & Beyond with the required list from school, checking off all the items that he couldn’t live without; extra long twin bed sheets, blankets, all American boy plaid comforter, a little plastic container to transport his shampoo and other toilet items to the shared bathrooms, and a large bag to collect the laundry he would bring home. Each item I threw in the basket and checked off the list was another knife to my heart and another tear rolled down my cheek. My baby angel boy was leaving. There would be no more kids trooping in to skate the halfpipe in our yard, no more boys to make cookies and smoothies for, no more driving everyone around ‘cos I was pretty much the only stay-at-home mom.
Never again would the captain and I be sneaky and follow him to his prom to make sure he was where he was supposed to be. Oh, how I long for the good old days!
UCSD is 24.5 miles away but he was only seventeen and had never been away from home unless you count a week at sixth grade camp. I worried night and day. I worried about what I did know and I worried about what I DIDN’T know he was doing. I would drive down with a care package and because I couldn’t stand it, I brought my vacuum, rubber gloves, Comet, and bleach. I was their personal maid. I didn’t do it all that often, and I don’t know how he felt about it, but I felt better. I could not stand to think he was living in that environment. When he got back from his junior year abroad in Germany, he moved into a pre-war apartment that was owned by a friend of the captain. On a semi-regular basis, I’d haul down my vacuum and other cleaning tools, and oh, yes, a pair of rubber gloves, and clean up for him. My rationale was that he was working so hard maintaining good grades that he didn’t really have time to waste on things like cleaning his toilet or doing his laundry. You do not want to know what the stove looked like, you really don’t. I scraped a couple inches of dried cheese, beans, eggs, and grease off the burners.
He’d come in the kitchen every half hour of so and say, “Good job, momma!” “I didn’t think that stuff would come off.”
“Did you even try?”
“Nope, I left it for you. Hey, I’m hungry, did you bring food?”
You might read this and think I’m joking, but I’m not. This is as fresh in my mind as if it happened yesterday. The mold in his refrigerator should have been analyzed-the scientific world missed an opportunity to discover a new cure for something. How he didn’t end up with staph or botulism I’ll never know.
My angel boy was accepted to Johns Hopkins for graduate school. I flew back there–gloves packed in my suitcase–to clean his apartment. By then he was married to DIL, and she was just as enthusiastic to have me scrubbing their floors as my son was! One year the captain came along, and we worked as a team to give their home a thorough going over. The cap even moved the stove. We left no stove unturned, as it were.
After he left JH for Yale, I continued to follow them about the country to literally clean up behind them wherever they are, whether it’s Providence or New Haven. My friend is an RN and she gave me a box of rubber gloves to bring with me. I’m certainly the butt of many jokes, I’m sure. I was at the San Diego airport last year and the TSA agents were looking through my bag and when I explained what I was doing with the rubber gloves, she had to call over a co-worker so they could all laugh
with at me!
There’s no moral to this story. There’s really no point to this story, either. I’m just the kind of mom who does things like that.