"So, Mom, can I have people over tonight?" my teenage son asked as I poured my second cup of coffee, trying to fight off the effects of waking up at 3:00 a.m.
"Tonight?" I asked, trying to hold back the Oh, God, no! that threatened to burst from my lips.
"Yeah. We have a meet tomorrow." Of course. Meet tomorrow means a house full of teenagers tonight. Can't race without carbo-loading the night before.
"What time?" I asked, still unwilling to give up my vision of a quiet evening recovering from the day's adventures in my third grade classroom.
"So, you're not making dinner?" I asked.
"No, I am," he responded.
Pause. How could I say no? I tried not to whimper when I acquiesced. "Okay, fine. But you have to make sure you clean up after yourself and not too late. Your dad and I have to get up early and go to work in the morning."
Where did this kid come from? I wondered, not for the first time. This kid who always has to be on the go, who loves having people over and cooking for them even though his cooking skills are somewhat lacking, and who is happiest when surrounded by his people.
In other words, this kid is nothing like me. Perhaps that is what I love about him the most.
So, here I sit tonight, struggling to hear the t.v. over the sounds of male voices and laughter leaping over and colliding with each other. It is the sound of youth and exuberance, of vitality and optimism. It is a sound I know I will miss in a few months when my firstborn heads off to college and takes the first step in establishing a life apart from me. The day I have to face that reality will come soon enough and I have no doubt I will experience a sadness unlike any I've ever felt before, but not tonight.
Tonight I feel nothing but gratitude for nights just like tonight.