‘The Nest. Is it half-empty? Or half-full?’
I think I can trace my rather non-involved mommy style back to a certain babysitting gig where I had to keep track of the kids’ poops on a chart. There were two of them (kids, that is), and a correspondingly healthy number of poops.
That, and a few other instances of dealing with what we now call ‘helicopter parenting’ put me off hovering. But I have to admit in all honesty that I was never destined to be one of those let’s-bake-a-zillion-cookies-and-then-whip-up-some-papier-mache-heads kind of moms.
The Dude (thank you!) was happy to handle Playground Duty. When the Child would say ‘Run, Mommy, run!’, I was apt to reply ‘Mommies don’t run; babysitters run’. And when well-meaning adults would exclaim ‘She really should go to Disney World!’, I would shoot back ‘Great idea! You take her.’
Don’t get me wrong; I excelled at such mommy duties as reading-to-the-kid and going-to-the-movies. The parenting proceeded apace. And, for the most part, childhood chugged along very nicely indeed. There was a sticky period in high school (not unusual in the least, I discovered on comparing notes with other moms) when I admit that I had her room mentally repurposed as a guest room/study.
The taking-her-to-college part? Didn’t phase me. (See above commemorative video for proof). Five years ago today (which, trust me, feels like five minutes ago), we loaded her stuff (and her) in the car, dumped her off, and instead of going to the ‘Welcome from the Dean’, the Dude and I headed for the nearest bar to toast our new freedom.
Which meant that I was totally unprepared for the ambush of emotion that greeted me when we got home to the empty nest, er apartment.
I would happen upon something as innocuous as an unmatched sock — and be gobsmacked with emotion. You don’t want to know about the ‘Mom’ inscribed hand-thrown vase or the little picture frame with stickers on it.
The Dude, trying to be helpful, bless him, would say intended-to-be-soothing things like ‘Come on, did you want her to stay a baby forever?’ Well, no. Duh, obviously. (Her Baby Stage, with its 24-hour-demanding-bits, wasn’t my favorite anyway. The going-to-the-beach-and/or-skiing stages were right up there, though).
Friends would try to cheer me up. ‘Now you can run around naked!’ You’d be amazed how many people suggested this. And by how excited they got suggesting it.
So, anyway. I painted the room, stowed the emotion-stoking tchotches. And, eventually, I got used to the baby being gone.
Then, guess what? She came back. And I don’t mean just for Thanksgiving.
Anybody out there have ideas for dealing with an Empty (or not-so-empty) Nest? Please note that I already have ‘run around naked’ on my list.
Amagansett, New York. August 2014