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My Work Here Was Done

We just moved our older son, Alex, to Toronto, where he will be attending medical school. I can’t take any of all the credit for his accomplishment, but when he was a little boy, I did cut various-shaped sandwiches for his and his brother’s lunch boxes. (I’d hate to think of where they would have ended up if the sandwiches had been in triangles. Shudders…) As if that wasn’t enough, I often slipped a note in with their lunches. Gosh, I can barely remember what they said but here’s the gist: Have a good day! See you after school! You will become a doctor one day! Bam! It worked! (His brother got the same notes, so do the math. Duh.)

Speaking of math, shortly after the sandwich/note phase, I noticed I was gradually being phased out our boys began to take a keen interest in math and science which would have been wonderful if I could figure out how to split a lunch bill but here’s the thing: I no speak-a the language. I majored in English and I assumed we would dissect poetry together, not test the strength of various mixtures of concrete for a science experiment (that I named Concrete Thinking by the way. Catchy, right?). I panicked and insisted they recite Shakespeare every night. I still get shivers when I remember those precious pre-schoolers mumbling: “This above all else: To thine own sewlf be twue. Swoon. Despite my efforts, the boys still concocted stupid experiments, understood that pi didn’t come with meringue, and one of them even had the audacity to correctly use the words ‘string theory’ in a sentence circa Grade 5. It was clear they were show-offs pulling away from me. I was dead inside the water.

Oh sure, I failed took high school science and math courses and I totally get that a polynomial is a shape with nine equal sides, but when the boys throw out words like parabolas (WTH?) kwantum fisix (Oh really?? Well, how do YOU spell it, Captain Intelligence? Bite me.) and the Periodic Table, I try to fit in by saying wrong and inappropriate things like: Oh! I know what that is!! Back in the day, I used the Periodic Table to chart my menstrual cycles and I’m here to tell you it’s a total crock and does NOT- I repeat- NOT work! You try counting 14 days from Fe (Iron) and see how many times you get pregnant. The ‘Idiotic Table’ might be a better name for it!

Pffft. I’m over it. Even though I don’t speak gibberish their language, I do other awesome and helpful things around here! Facts: I make a mean martini sandwich (See Paragraph 1), I can grocery shop in under 22 minutes (My personal best. Jealous much?) and I can pull together a dumpster with the perfect, well-placed throw cushion. I’ll have you know, when we moved our boy into his new place, he was not begging for my decorating advice so there! Hmmmph.

His apartment was in need of some TLC. My heart fluttered. I finally had something to offer! I could envision endless possibilities to jazz things up: plants, pictures, a mirror-tile backsplash and marble countertops… Where to begin??

On my way out the door to Walmart, I asked him, “Would you like some pictures for your walls?”

He responded, “Why?”

Next, I asked, “How about a few plants?”

Him: “Nah. They’ll die.”

Me: “A bowlful of potpourri? Wicker baskets? Slipcovers for those chairs?? A robin egg blue accent wall?? Work with me for the luvofgod!”

Him: “I don’t understand why you’re still here anything you just said.”

Sigh. Words weren’t working. I had to show him the possibilities, so on our third hundredth trip to Walmart, I dragged him to the home décor section and pointed out things like:


And this to make the walls pop:


Awwww… ‘member this??


His response was consistent: “Get some help. Nah.”

Dejected but determined, I slipped a cinnamon-scented candle into the shopping cart:

He asked, “Uh. What’s that thing?”

Me: “Duh. It’s a candle. You can hide it behind the toaster if you want but the smell will hopefully remind you of the Christmas we made that gingerbread house and it took over 2 hours and the roof slid off and the walls fell over and I yelled, “I hate you, Martha Stewart!!” we laughed until our stomachs hurt. Remember??” (He didn’t, FYI.)

There was no way I was leaving that store without some apartment bling! As he ran away from me went in search of an ethernet cable (boooorrring!), I boldly grabbed a floor lamp, a gray throw blanket and a plaid throw pillow. This…was…on.

Back at the apartment I fussed for seconds hours, while the guys tried to set up the TV (boooorrring!) and here’s the final product. Ta da!!!



I nailed it right?

The guys were all like, “Mom, you killed it! We’re hungry.”

Once they all stopped ignoring me gushing, I had to remind Alex of the throw cushion rules:

Do not sit on it. Ever. Promise me.

Fluff it up every time you walk by it.

 And, the throw blanket rules:

Drape it carefully over the arm of the chair.

Use it only in emergencies and re-drape when finished.

My work here was done. As I turned towards the door to leave, I took one last glimpse at my towering son. It was clear he had already squished the damn cushion was no longer the little boy who needed notes from me. But I left him one just the same. It went like this:

Have a good semester! See you in a few weeks. You will become a doctor one day.

PS Call me every day no matter what if you have questions about home décor or how to make a PB&J into a bread Picasso, but no parabola-related questions, please.  

PPS What even is a parabola?? 

PPPS The cinnamon-scented candle is in your top kitchen drawer beside the floral-patterned oven mitts.

Love Mom xox



29 thoughts on “My Work Here Was Done

  1. I laughed, I cried. You nailed it again Colleen! Congrats on a job (very) well done and good luck fielding all those long distance decorating calls.

  2. That’s funny! I admit shedding a few tears. It’s hard to believe those boys really don’t care much about throw cushions.
    Congratulations on a job well done !!

  3. Awesome on many fronts Colleen! 👏🏽 First, hilarious! 😂 Second, congrats to your stethoscope-laden son! 🔬 And third, when are you coming back to the Big Smoke? 🍸Email moi👌🏽

  4. I loved it! It was hilarious but also got me right in the heart. I know it was tough to leave your boy there. Of course, you always look on the bright side…and the funny side. That, my dear, is why you will live to be 110. You see the humour in all situations. I love it! Thanks for such an uplifting read. xxoo

  5. Hey! You can leave comments! I never scrolled down this far. Whenever I finish reading your snippets of motherly wisdom, which by the way have gotten me out of trouble several times, I thought the fun was over. Not so! Funny as always but what makes them funnier is that I hear your voice as I read your stories. You have really great delivery but you already knew that.

  6. The answer to this is……Daughters….I just helped her move into a small apartment and its law school not med school. There are some beauty throw pillows and ocean scented candles.

    PS….I have a son too. It was engineering. There was no throw pillows and don’t even get me started on the quadratic equation. Sigh.

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