12/12/2011 10:09 pm ET Updated Feb 11, 2012

Xbox 360 vs. Mom 51

You're back and I'm sorry. When you left I knew it would be weeks before we heard from you again.

It wasn't always like this. I welcomed you into our home, made you part of our family. Soon you were the go-to source of fun, intoxicating, always on, ready. Still, I had my doubts about your influence and your stability.

You'd lost your drive once before. Buckled under the pressure and we had no choice but to send you off for some R and R. While you were gone, the boys -- two teens and the 59-year-old who resembles my husband -- sought comfort in others. When you returned, it was as if you had never left. You ruled the house -- until, that is, the old behavior began to creep back. You became mercurial, played only when you felt like it. The boys grew wary, on edge. Then something in you died and it was clear you had to go away again--to put your life back together, and that I needed to do the same for my family.

The process was slow at first. The boys were depressed, bored. They napped more, ate less. Snacks went untouched -- I had to take drastic measures and eat those snacks myself so they wouldn't go to waste.

The room where you stayed -- perpetually dark, in need of dusting, blankets strewn about -- was cleaned. Blinds were opened, light poured in. We reconnected with Mario and Banjo Kazooie, rediscovered and played Scrabble and Catch Phrase, watched movies, talked, read. And I began to see glimmers of my previous children -- the ones who reveled in taking bike rides, going for walks with the dog, and making dinner with their mother. The same children who once played outside for hours with nothing but a single ball to entertain them, and who went to bed on the same day they woke up. Gone were the haunting sounds of battle, the competitive tone you set, the one-upping. I could finally walk past your room without feeling the urge to toss you out. And it was like old times. Or so I thought.

Truth be told, you were never far from their minds. Peace was only temporary. You'd left a hole that nobody and nothing could fill, regardless of how many cookies I baked. The boys asked about you, tracked your whereabouts daily. Minutes turned to hours, hours to days, days to weeks.

Then came word you were to return. My oldest son, the 59-year-old who resembles my husband, made plans to work from home so as not to miss you. He sat at the kitchen table, his pants and shirt crisply pressed, typing away, always with an eye toward the window. The other boys sent text messages to him inquiring: Xbox 360 home yet? Morning turned to afternoon.

That night we ate dinner together as a family. In spite of the distraction of your expected arrival, our conversation, after weeks of getting to know one another again, was easy and fun. Then the doorbell rang: it was you, neatly packaged, raring to go. And go you did -- within minutes they'd carried you upstairs, plugged you in and drawn the blinds.

But I know the truth: you're designed to fail, to be replaced. And when that time comes yet again, I'll be here. Because in spite of your allure, I've got one up on you -- Post 50 mothers don't need technical support.