When my almost 24-year-old son texted me a couple weeks ago and asked to go to Ikea, I was thrilled. It’s not that either of us needed anything, he just wanted to walk around, and I quote, “talk about his feelings.”
There isn’t a mother in the world wouldn’t jump on that request. Not because it’s Ikea, although that’s awesome, but because her baby wanted to share some deep thoughts, which he hasn’t done for years.
The “years” haven’t been easy on the boy, especially this last one, when circumstances got the best of him, and he wanted to talk about it. Out loud. With his mom. And his stepdad. Over cinnamon rolls at Ikea.
If you have never had an Ikea cinnamon roll with a cup of mediocre Swedish coffee, I recommend it. And if you have an Ikea family membership card, the coffee is actually free.
I tossed most of my membership-rewards cards years ago after they accumulated in such numbers that I couldn’t carry them around. But I kept the two you truly do need for your shopping to really work — Ikea and BJs Wholesale Club. We had gotten our son a BJs club card last year, but for Ikea he still needed me.
We met at the entrance then headed to the showroom. Getting through Ikea on a Saturday is no small feat – dodging zillions of zealous shoppers and maneuvering through the mega-maze-like layout requires determination, even skill. It can take years to master, but my family has it down after more practice than they ever desired.
Only this particular Saturday, in spite of the crowds we took our time strolling and talking as if we were in the park. And, like a dog without a leash, or more like a scurrying rat, I got sidetracked, looking at this or that, wondering what I might need, it’s cheap after all. But my unhurried son and husband lagged far behind, and every time I turned around they were head-to-head, deep in conversation, oblivious to where I was, or what was even going on around them. I couldn’t interfere.
This was what…and who…my son needed. His “dad.”
Last fall my boys’ birth-certificate father went to court to emancipate them. There are no words to even type here, except they felt it. My boys once and for all lost the father they never really had – certainly not one they wanted – the man chose to put gambling first.
But they have a step dad who loves them like a father can. And they know it.
So I left the two to walk and talk through 415,575 square feet of Ikea retail love. I watched them from afar trusting that life was unfolding for both of them, just as it needed to.
When we eventually made it to the cafe where the unmistakable smell of cinnamon rolls and Swedish meatballs permeated the air, we sat down with our coffee and my son looked at his step dad and said,
“Will you take membership of me?”
In his soft, special way his stepdad answered, “I already did.”
There’s not a reward in the world that beats that.