There’s a special closeness between a mother and her adult son: an exceptional understanding, a mutual admiration, the enjoyment of just being together.
But that wasn’t exactly the case for Candy and Kyle.
It’s the spring of 2020 in suburban New Jersey, and the Coronavirus is raging. Mother and son are bound together by the shelter-in-place order. Nobody leaves their home except for groceries and maybe a walk down the block with the appropriate social distancing.
Candy is a retired public school teacher used to an over-active schedule of substitute teaching, canasta, hair and nail appointments, doctor visits, helping her daughter out with the kids, and going out for dinner with friends.
There’s never been a reason to stay home.
Candy has been divorced longer than she was married. She and her ex are on good terms. It’s one of those complicated relationships; impossible to sever. Health issues, financial problems, and a lengthy emotional history make it impossible to untangle the “no longer” husband and wife.
But that’s not today’s story. I want to share the story about the relationship between Candy and her son Kyle.
Kyle celebrated his fortieth birthday in the second bedroom of Candy’s condo. Failure to launch. That’s Kyle in a nutshell. He’s a wonderful guy – don’t get me wrong. A real sweetheart. Big heart, gentle manner. He’s a good looking young man, he keeps himself in good shape and, he’s helpful to his family.
Kyle is reliable, and he’s responsible. He’s doesn’t fit the profile of the hapless loser you expect to see still living with his mother at the age of forty.
So what is it about Kyle that keeps him from moving on? I believe Kyle suffers from a lack of confidence (unintentionally) reinforced daily by his mother.
I’m entitled to my opinion, and I’ve earned the right to express it: I’m Candy’s best friend.
We met in high school. I was there when Candy met Marty in their freshman year. I was the maid of honor at their wedding. I was Candy’s first call when she was pregnant and when she went in to labor – both times. I was the one who delicately pointed out to Candy that her marriage was over.
I know my dear Candy better than I know myself. Kyle is like a son to me. I have been their in-between since the earliest days. Should Kyle do an extra year of pre-school or start kindergarten with his friends? Does the public school have the resources to address Kyle’s learning disabilities, or should he be in a school for kids with special needs? Is little league too stressful for Kyle?
Tough questions. Tough love.
I raised a red flag early on—over-protective Mama. I did my best to help Candy see a better way to help him grow. Nothing much sunk in. Candy could not be any other way. Her anxiety could not handle giving her son the freedom to fail.
Candy’s curse is she has too much motherly love. Yes, too much love can be a problem sometimes.
So here we are. Life on pause because of the pandemic. Candy and Kyle together in 1200 square feet with no distance between them.
Where before Kyle would go to work in the morning, stop for take-out on his way home, go into his bedroom and close the door, he now had roughly sixteen long hours to fill.
And with Candy’s daily routine decimated, the always empty living room was now filled with mother and son.
And, a funny thing happens there. Candy learns that her son is not the fragile little boy she once knew. Instead, he is a strong and capable man. She never knew it.
It started with a call from Kyle’s office week two of the home confinement. “We’re sending over your office computer and monitors – work from home.”
Candy, being Candy, worried about how they would set up all the equipment. Keyword: “they.”
It was unimaginable that her son could turn the tangled mess of plastic boxes, plugs, and wires into a working system that could monitor a transportation hub.
The evidence was undeniable when she stared with awe and pride as Kyle made the connections and was on the phone with drivers and customers conducting business on the dining room table.
After a day of work, rather than Kyle going into his bedroom, he and Candy would sit together on the couch and watch the news. Then dinner together, Candy cooked, and they both enjoyed it. One night they played Scrabble. Another night Yahtzee. They binged a Netflix series over the weekend.
The condo was alive with fun and conversation. The oppressive love of forty years dissipated, and healthy love grew.
Redemption comes when you least expect it and most need it. God never lets a crisis go to waste.
Read More by this author