This is from 1992, in the fall, I think, before the youngest left for college. I've learned a lot since then, about redefining myself, about how cool it is having adult children, about how right I was to look at endings as beginnings. I've always said that my favorite time is Now, and it's always been true. Still is. But it's fun to remember other favorite times.
“When mothers talk about the depression of the empty nest, they’re not mourning the passing of all those wet towels on the floor, or the music that numbs your teeth, or even the bottle of capless shampoo dribbling down the shower drain. They’re upset because they’ve gone from supervisor of a child’s life to a spectator. It’s like being the vice president of the United States.” - Erma Bombeck
It's sneaking up on me. People have gone into therapy over it, gotten divorces because of it, lost or gained weight, started or stopped smoking--the list goes on and on. I'm pretty sure some movie star is going to write a bestseller about it, then an expert with initials after his name is going to write another one explaining the deep, hidden meaning of the first one.
Women have bought new wardrobes, changed their hair colors and even their professions because of it. Men have spent more time on golf courses and their jobs and their appearances because of it.
Are you curious yet?
What "it" is, of course, is "Empty Nest Syndrome." I'm not really sure if it should be quotation marked and capitalized like that, but since I'm the one facing it, at almost the same time as my 42nd birthday and in the same time period as wrecking my car and my annual trip to the gynecologist, I think it deserves big letters and quotation marks.
|Laura Wray & Jock Flaherty in high school in the early 1990s. Now they've been married 19 years.|
I will be able to take a shower without someone knocking on the bathroom door and saying, "Mom, are you about done?" I can lay a book down and find it in the same place when I go back to it. I can rent a three-Kleenex movie without anyone bagging over it. I can play Nintendo (note from 2017--remember this is 25 years ago, okay?) without anyone coaching me or beating me so badly I have to go to the kitchen and pout. I could, if having two children in college allowed me to have any money, spend it on myself without feeling guilty.
It will be fun, in a way, my husband and I agree, to have the house to ourselves. We will, for the first time since we've lived here, have the biggest bedroom in the house as soon as our son moves out of it. We'll have better meals because the picky eaters will be being picky at school instead of at home. We'll be able to used the big thick towels instead of the little thin ones that are all that's left when everyone is home. We can both take classes or have dinner out if we like, without worrying about missing an important school function.
The possibilities are endless. Endings are something I'm not to fond of and I avoid them by looking at them as beginnings. That's what I'm going to do now, when the house is too empty and the phone is too quiet and being "Mom" is no long all-encompassing. Letting go of any child is hard, and I think letting go of the last-born is going to be the hardest of all. However, releasing the kid is allowing yourself to begin to know the young adult.
So I've decided I'm going to look forward to all the endless possibilities, to the beginnings. I am. Really.