Sharon Lee visits

It was my little sister’s first vacation without either of her sons along. They had college classes to attend. Her first evening I asked her, “Don’t you need to call your sons and tell them you arrived safely?”
Se shrugged, “Not really. They know I’m okay.”
I know our mother used to say, “it’s all part of a parent’s growing up,” but I was still surprised.
“I guess I can send them an e-mail message,” she consented, more for my sake than theirs. I did a quick mental adjustment; her sons may still be at home, but like my sons they are in college and don’t need her.
How life has changed. When they were in grad school, she became a single parent and needed to work. She took a part-time job working in the kitchen of their school, ensuring she would e home when they were.
When she returned to finish her senior year of college, she arranged her schedule so she would get home when they did. A year later, she had the ideal job for a single mom: Part-time with several weeks of paid vacation in the summer.
Slowly, over the years, she increased her hours. When her youngest entered high school, she took a new job as an office manager, with more responsibilities, less vacation and 40 solid hours of work per week. The youngest is a freshman in college this year and very ready to have a week at home without mom.
The week she arrived was my second week of working 40 hours.
“How do you like the new job?” she asked.
“It isn’t that different, but those last two hours of the day drag.”
She laughed, “I remember how long the afternoons seemed when I began working 40 hours a week.”
She made the adjustment. So will I and so will my friend who also recently began working full time.
She asked her teenage sons what they thought about her not being home every afternoon when they came in from school. “They just shrugged their shoulders!” she told me – several times.
I said, “You think that is bad. Last summer, my daughter told me to get a full-time job. When I protested, ‘but darling, I have to be here when you are not in school.’ she just rolled her eyes at me, ‘get a life, Mom.’”
My friend topped me, “I told my sons, I would only be able to be at camp the first week, not all three as we have done in the past.”
“You won’t be?” they had asked her, “Not at all?”
“I’m sorry, but this year I can’t.”
“They were so disappointed,” she said, “that they spent the rest of the day discussing the things they could and would do this year at camp without me around.”
Not only do my friend and I have to contend with our teenagers lack of sorrow at our absence from their lives, but we suddenly realized: No more summer vacations. This will be my first year since kindergarten without a summer break.
My sister listened and smiled at my mental anguish at growing up. She hasn’t had a long summer vacation in years. It may be, as my mom said, “All part of a parent’s growing up,” but no summer vacation?!
I’m not sure I want to grow up.

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