Big Times at Mama’s House: The Boomerang Update

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Marion's dog
No one is happier than the family dog, Beau, to have everyone under one roof again.

Watchers of this space have read of the comings and goings of my children from the maternal roost in the past few years, though a news blackout has been in effect since last summer, when my younger son Vince put the kibosh on further reports concerning his personal life. Well, who can blame the kid? Anyone can see how annoying it must be to have a memoirist for a mother.

In fact, Vince moved out last November Baltimore Colts style — no warning, overnight. I guess things were a little strained between us at the time but when I saw the house he and his friends had rented — the neighborhood seemed a bit sketchy, but the house was lovely — I was all for it. I gave them my extra coffee cups, towels and extension cords and cooked lots of side dishes for the housewarming party. Vince smoked a brisket on his new backyard smoker and the result made me almost as proud as his magna cum laude college diploma. Among the gifts the boys received was an eight-inch Bowie knife from their new landlord, who obviously knew something we didn’t.

Indeed, life was good at bromance headquarters for just a few short months, at which point four masked men who apparently had the wrong address showed up at the door one night with guns and duct tape. They left one harrowing hour later with some laptops, an open bottle of Ciroc and a box of condoms.

After the home invasion, the boys never stayed another night in the house. And though the robbers left all the musical instruments and recording equipment the night of the break-in, they did return with a truck the next day to steal the smoker.

During the ensuing week of severe PTSD, the boys hauled their stuff (Bowie knife still in inventory) to a storage unit and tried to plot their next steps. I could tell Vince didn’t want to move back home, and he didn’t need a new place right away, because his band was heading out on tour. By the time they returned to Baltimore, an unexpected development had occurred.

Vince’s older brother, Hayes, who makes twice as much as I do and has been living in a swanky pad in Federal Hill for the past few years decided to move home himself! His lease had run out, his roommates had moved in with their girlfriends, and he was waiting for news about graduate school in the fall, so it made sense to postpone getting a place until the future came into focus. His thirteen-year-old sister Jane and I welcomed him gladly. In addition to his winning personality, he is known for doing dishes and shopping for groceries at Whole Foods.

When Vince returned from tour to find his rich older brother having taken up residence in the guest room, he found it less degrading to park himself in the basement. A true instance of the more, the merrier. In fact, he set up a giant TV monitor and the two of them are down there most nights playing FIFA soccer. Hayes’s bike in the living room… Vince’s guitars in the hall… Jane’s shoes all over the house… It is just like old times and I have to say, I love it. It won’t last long, especially since Vince has taken a job selling ad space for this very publication and will soon be able to afford less cramped accommodations, hopefully ones that aren’t under a foot of water every time it rains. Sharing a target market has been good for our relationship. Go Baltimore Fishbowl!

And so I celebrate my 56th birthday today with my offspring sweetly crowded around me, enjoying my cooking, putting up with my nagging (and writing) as best they can, in general, perking up the joint in a big way. Jane is thinking our Baltimore rowhouse reality show could give the Kardashians a run for their money.

Happiest of all is the dog, of course, literally jumping for joy at the magical return of his pack.

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Marion Winik
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  1. Happy birthday, Marion–so lovely to celebrate with all your kids at home. (Grateful Vince is safe.) Wonderful column.

  2. Best of all birthday wishes, my favorite writer, and huge love and kudos to you and your kids who need mom in new and old ways. Oh, and to faithful Beau.

  3. I love this, Marion. Not the part about the break-in and PTSD, but you and your family all tucked and scrambling under the same roof.

  4. Happy birthday, sweetie. You’ve given yourself the best gift ever — three of ’em, in fact: Hayes, Vince and Jane. And that lil lagniappe Beau.

  5. I love this story. My house as been a revolving door for my daughter along with one or more of her (now 3) children. This last ‘temporary’ stay was for a month – two years ago. There is the tempestuous 15 year old, social butterfly 8 year old (friends feel free to enter and exit via the fridge at all hours and view me as the grandma who smells good} and the 4 year old who can knock your socks off and deafen you with one shrill scream {this one is definitely my daughter’s payback}. My dogs {now 15 and 8), who once viewed the return of the masses as fun and exciting, have taken this latest return as less than folly. While the 4 year old takes top billing for this nervous breakdown, 5 or 6 eight year olds at once only added to the mix. If they could talk rather than exude their fear purely through body language and pathetic eyes, they would be begging me for drugs and/or booze. Indeed, I have a townhouse and everyone in town lives here.

  6. I just read some other comments and noticed you have a birthday. Happy Birthday. My son’s birthday is today as well

  7. My 31 yr old is looking for a house to buy and my husband will be bereft when she leaves. I left at 17 and never looked back.. times have changed. and happy birthday!

  8. Loved this column. Happy birthday to you! I’ve got two sons — ages 18 & 22 — and nothing makes me happier than having them both home at the same time. The house feels full & complete.

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