Friday, March 09, 2007

Thank You, Mrs. Ma'am

Last night, as part of their spring break tour, a college chorus performed at our church. We have a fairly small church body, and we needed to provide housing for 43 kids and 2 adults, so it was a stretch. I volunteered our home to five young men, because that was how many I could fit in my car in transporting them there and back again. Beds are another matter, but they are college kids and aren't too discriminating about where they would be laying their heads for the eleven hours that they would be here. Two bunked on the beds in Amanda's room, in spite of the "No boys ALOUD" sign on the door (they wondered if it would be okay if they were quiet boys while they were in there). Three crashed in the guest room. I think that one lucky guy had the double bed all to himself, and the other two used sleeping bags.

We have had the opportunity to host college kids (and it's always been young men) in our home many times over the last six years or so, as retreat counselors and for various other church-related events. A few things have changed since I was in college: Guys use almost as much "product" as girls do these days. There are creams and gels and pomades. After a number of guys have gotten ready in one bathroom, there's a distinct Eau de Male (and not the kind of eau that we notice when we house 7th grade boys). They still require less beautifying in the morning than girls do, which is one reason that I'm just as happy to host boys, but they definitely aren't as wash-and-go as boys used to be.

They were very polite and friendly, of course. "Thank you, Ma'am." "You have a beautiful home." "We really appreciate everything." But I've also picked up on one very obvious feature: I am Mom. Several years ago, it wasn't so obvious. I had one cute preschool-aged daughter. The twenty-year-old kids might have had an older sister my age, or at least a cool young aunt. But now it's become clear that they do not relate to me in this way anymore.

What's happened here? It wasn't that long ago that I was in college. Well, maybe it was. Fifteen years isn't that long is it? Now I have a kid who's nearing double digits herself, plus a young toddler. What's more, instead of relating these nineteen-year-olds to my sister-in-law who is eleven years younger than I am, I think that I myself relate to them more as I might a child, or a friend of my children, or the babysitter (being the mom to the babysittees is another thing that quickly made me feel my age).

I leave you with the evidence: After coming in and dropping his bags in his room, one young man gave me this assessment after looking around.

"I think that you and my mom would really get along. She likes everything to match, too."

I am no Martha Stewart, but I'm glad he appreciated and noticed the coordinating curtains that we installed in the family room, breakfast room and kitchen last year. But what really struck me was the unspoken motivation behind the thought:

"I can't relate to this Mom-person. What should I say to her? She'd probably rather be talking to my mom. Hey, she has material up on the windows, kind of like my mom does. I bet she'd want to talk about that."


Heather said...

That last little "unspoken motivation" made me laugh!

L.L. Barkat said...

I love the young man's comment. He sounds like a guy who wouldn't mind sleeping on the floor, with mismatched socks and shirt for a pillow.

Lauren S. said...

So funny! Isn't it strange how we seem to slip into the world of grown-ups without noticing the transition? Then someone calls you Ma'am and it snaps you right out of your youthful delusion!

Heidi said...

That was a hilarious story to me! Good for you for being so brave to have 5 young men sleep in your house. I can't decide if I would pick men or women. I think you're onto something with the bathroom time thing!

And yes, I think that I am at that crossroads now with teenagers where they think of me as older now. It is a little disconcerting, but I've accepted it. I think that is better than trying to act like a teenager when you should be acting like an adult.

Good post!

org junkie said...

Hi Jennifer, wow I'm impressed that you took in five men....sounds like they'd give me a run for my money on the hair product

You are too funny...I know exactly what you mean :)


Beck said...

That young guy sounds sort of sweet, though. My brothers use more product than me, so yeah, guys ARE higher maintenance now!

Big Mama said...

I know how you feel. I always say things like "when I graduated from college a few years ago..." umm, yeah, that would be 13 years ago.

Katrina said...

Ha - too funny!! Good for you for opening your home, I'm sure they did appreciate it. But yes, as we (gracefully) get older, we're more mom-types and less cool-types. Sigh...

Karla said...

I have to say that this post brought a tear to my eye because I know exactly how you are feeling. I graduated from college in 1994..13 years ago. (like Big Mama) I still can't believe it!

angeleyes Blue said...

I am not old. One would say that it just your perception but you guys are all commenting on your age and graduating from college in the 90's.

Oh God I am OLD. I graduated from high school in 1981. I finally finished college in 1988.

When I was 20/21 I had the opportunity to travel around the world with a group called 'Up With People'. I was a singer and a dancer (actually someone picked on personality not on talent) The organization did this because bottom line you had to like people.

I lived with 95 families in one year. My host families weren't always english speaking.

You were talking about beds and such. One of my fondest memories of this time was sleeping in a sauna in the backyard of a house in Falshipping, Norway. (spelling here?)

It was their only space. It was the dead of winter (lots of snow) It made you think twice about going to the bathroom in the middle of the night--Who wants to dress in their winter coat, put on mucklucks, mittens and a hat to go to the bathroom?!

I also lived with one family that took 5 girls and gave us 1 king size bed, that was it.

In Sweden, my host dad gave me his catch from the North Sea (100 shrimp...Have you ever eaten shrimp at 2 in the morniing by breaking their back, breaking off their legs and sucking out the insides?

My host dad in Germany made me a duck at 1:00 in the morning. I don't mean duck I MEAN THE WHOLE THING! Head, Bill everything.

My host families were always so gracious so I always felt I had to eat what was given to me.

I can honestly say that 'Blood Sausage' is not my cup of tea but a favorite in Germany.

It was nice of you to open your home up and it will be a memory for you and your family for years to come. How long has it been since 1984-1985? What a memory!

Rebecca said...


It's so weird. And I am much older than you are, but I have the same strange feeling of being viewed by some as much older than I am. I don't see that much difference between me and the young ones, but ...

Dad said...

To make you feel even more mature, I think of you differently than I did a few years ago. I can remember what I was like at your age and you were a child.
All of you 30 somethings have a few wrinkles and character in your faces.

jenny said...

That last part made me laugh. I am moving that direction as well. I graduated from college "only" 13 years ago, but the chasm is widening so quickly now. I do think it might have to do with my oldest being just as tall as I am, ad using lots of "product" in his hair, too.

Barb said...

I'm afraid fifteen years really does make a big difference, Jennifer. Let me tell you, THIRTY years makes a HUGE difference. LOL

Even in this medium, blogging, I'm constantly compared to people's moms. I finally figured out it's meant respectfully and really, I'm 56, so I just had to get over myself. :-)

GiBee said...

We did the same thing several years ago, and housed 2 young ladies. It was a blessing for us! And, of course, we enjoyed the concert tremendously.

Malissa said...

Great story:) I used to be the college kid staying in people's homes.

:) Yes sometimes it's hard to figure out what to say.
But they sound like nice guys:) Too cute about your last comment;)

Blogging Mama said...

Too funny! I could picture the whole scene, especially the part where you were probably standing there with a huge smile that suddenly faded into a smirk of "Yeah, I guess so. We could be BFFs, I'm sure"...accepting your fate. :) He he he!