I know there are no guarantees in life. I know that plans are subject to change. I know these things, but that doesn’t make it any easier when unexpected changes come my way. For the last couple of years, my daughter Erin has been going to school in Oklahoma and my son Ryan has been living on the road and in Nashville while working with a Christian rock band. That left me happily at home alone, except for the occasional visit. I was looking forward to continuing my solitary life, but unexpected changes have blown my plans out of the water.
I like living alone. I like the fact that when I wake up in the morning, things are where I left them the night before. I like knowing what’s in the pantry and the fridge, and not having to wonder whether I’ve run out of something. I like choosing what shows to watch, what music to listen to, what movies to view, and when. My car is always available. It’s quiet when I want it to be quiet, and noisy when I want noise. When I get lonely, I have friends to visit or call, but when I want to be alone, I can be.
That changed last spring when son Ryan decided to leave the band, move home, and get a job. It was harder for him to find employment than he thought it would be, but eventually he got a job as a delivery man for Lowe’s. We settled into a fairly agreeable pattern of living, but I had to give up my precious independence. Now I had to watch things like Car & Driver, How It’s Made, Pimp My Ride, American Chopper, Mythbusters (which I truly love), and lots of other how-to and reality shows. I had to adjust to the fact that groceries purchased Monday would be gone by Wednesday (if not before). But we managed to get along fairly well.
A few weeks later, daughter Erin came home from school for the summer break. For five weeks, the house was crowded with the three of us bumping into each other and encroaching on each other’s territories. I could handle it, though, because I knew it would be short-lived. In mid-June, Erin left for a 5-week stint at MasterWords, a summer music festival program for Christian students who plan on becoming professional musicians, dancers, actors, etc. Then a few weeks later, Ryan succumbed to pressure from his former boss and decided to re-join the band on their next tour. He left home the day before Erin returned, so I had one precious day alone. Soon after returning from MasterWorks, Erin agreed to be the chaperone for our church’s pre-teen girls going to camp, so she was gone for another week. When she returned from camp, she had 4 more weeks before the start of school.
I was looking forward to Erin returning to school. Not because I don’t enjoy being with her, because I really do. We have a terrific relationship and we understand each other very well. But I knew that she was bored with being at home and missing her school friends, and I was also anticipating the return of my solitary life – the quiet, controlled, predictable life I had enjoyed for the last couple of years.
Things have a way of changing however, and our expectations are not always met. When Erin got back to Oklahoma, she discovered that her financial aid had run out, and her scholarship was revoked due to lack of funding. (This is happening at my school, DBU, as well – economic hard times impact private colleges in a big way.) She stayed for a week while her advisors tried to work something out, but in the end, there simply was no money available. On the same weekend that Erin discovered her reversal of fortunes, Ryan had a falling-out with the leader of the band, and called to tell me he was coming home for good. I picked him up last Sunday in Bowie, Texas, and Erin returned from OKC this past Wednesday.
Now my house is full again, of unemployed 20-somethings who are disappointed and dissatisfied with the challenges facing them. They’re both trying to keep their spirits up, but it’s going to be rough times until jobs can be found. We only have two cars between the three of us, and I have to use mine daily. So the challenge of finding jobs is complicated by transportation issues. I can’t afford to feed and supply all three of us, adding another layer of stress to the already pressurized situation.
We’re going to have to make adjustments, and we’re going to have to learn to live together in harmony, respecting each other’s individuality and personal traits and tastes. I know we can do it, but it won’t be easy, and it won’t happen quickly. So if you’re reading this post, please say a quick prayer on our behalf. Only the grace of God will see us through.