July 12, 2011

You only *think* you know...

Today, a friend and I were chatting about our kids.  You know, as mothers tend to do.

When she suddenly blurted out that she wished she was in my shoes.

(Ummm... no not really.  What with the whole friends going through a divorce, the dad facing heart surgery - and me trying to figure out how to convince him to come here [a whole 'nother story], the unemployment....the list goes on)

She was talking about the fact that at this time next year I will be preparing to send my baby, my ONLY CHILD, off to college.

At first I was incredulous - because she had recently just saw her oldest son off to Iraq (or was it Afghanistan? I forget.  Either way, to a dangerous place).

As she went on and on about how quiet my house would be; how clean it would be (obviously she forgot about Hubby); how I could do anything I wanted - the list went on forever - it dawned on me....

She has two younger children; one who will just be entering high school this year and another in middle school.

She is still smack-dab in the middle of parenting.  She is far, far, FAR removed from the empty-nest syndrome.

She has yet to actually realize that one day she will look up from her pile of laundry and be hit; face first; with that OMG! moment when she discovers - it's just going to be "us"!  You know, the people we used to be.

Which then brings to mind the questions.....

What are we going to do without driving this one somewhere and back again because the other parent flaked out?  What will we do without having to nag someone to do their homework, their class project, to put their dishes in the dishwasher and, DAMMIT!, pick up your socks!  What will we do at night without having one of us wait up for him to come home - safe and sober?  How will we react without having some kind of teenage drama going on ALL THE TIME?

How will we survive in a house that doesn't have that constant "buzz" that it seems to have when he's in it?

What will we have to TALK about once the last (or only) child is gone from the house?

There are many more questions that float in your brain - many, many more - as you try to prepare to wrap your mind around the fact that the one (or third, or fifth, or whatever - it doesn't matter - your LAST) core being that made you into a little family - instead of a couple - is leaving.  Perhaps forever.

And she?  Well, she's just not there yet.

But when she is, I'll be ready to hold her as she cries.


  1. Having two age ranges in our house I think I get this. Nate just moved out, Josh is leaving for college soon (at least he BETTER be. Don't even get me started about he still doesn't have a place to go and he is not accepting an offer from a good school just because it is in Ohio and he doesn't want to leave his giirrlllfffrrriiiiend. Aargh)and Chris is definitely feeling the empty-nest syndrome. Mostly because the younger two are cared for by ME 99% of the time but it is hard when they grow up and move out. We have to redefine who we are as a family. It's no longer the older 2 and younger 2, just the younger 2.

  2. The grass is always greener on the other side syndrome, I guess. She looks and sees how wonderful it is, you are wondering "what will we do as empty nesters." I acutely miss my 22 y/o old who moved out in January. It is that delicate balance; got to give them room but at the same time I'm wanting to call "are you eating", "got rent money" etc. Technically I guess we don't have a true empty nest, we got the dog :)

    It is a different mindset though. I'd do it all over again, even the worst of times with son's growing up.

    Best advice you can give your friend is just to enjoy the time because it will go so fast!


  3. Parenting doesn't stop when they move out, you just no longer get a vote! They do what they want, when they want and you sit around and worry about them. (they do still manage to look you up when they need something though)

  4. Oh I had an empty house all day on Sunday, it was blissity bliss bliss. My kids will never leave home, I have stopped kidding myself about it.

  5. I follow several blogs that show that grandparenting can be quite time consuming, too. I say enjoy your time alone while you have it. An old saying I think of often is that when one door closes, another one opens. You've just got to walk through it.

  6. It takes a little getting used to, but it also a wonderful time. You have more time for yourself. Luckily my boys are close by so we see each other often.

  7. I can't imagine that feeling, but I know it can't be easy! It is such a milestone, but totally bittersweet to *have raised* a child instead of raising one.

    I'm WAY on the other end (first - maybe only - baby is only 15 months), but my parents just went through this as we all left the house. My mom told me that she was bawling like a baby when they dropped my little sister off to college, and my dad looked at her and said, "What are you crying for? We managed to raise three girls with no drug problems, no car accidents, no teen pregnancies, no one ending up in jail...I'm relieved!"

    Lol. I know they miss us, but it's been so fun to watch them return to "just them" and to relate to them as adults instead of as their kids.

  8. I'm was trying to figure out what I'm going to do with all this free time. Then I found out that she and her new hubby will still live with me while he finishes school.

  9. I still have two years of nagging and worrying and that constant buzz when he is home (what a great description!), but I'm starting to get a feel for what it will be like since he has been at camp for a month now.

    I am dreading that day.

    Great post!

  10. You'll have to find other empty-nesters and play bridge with them or something. :P

    You'll be able to do ~whatever you want so enjoy yourselves!

  11. You're a good friend, Gigi.

    We're just beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel as the boy enters his final three years of high school. Perhaps he'll be off right away at 18 to join the navy as he says he will do? Perhaps, though, he will hang around for years living in our basement till well into his twentys like so many kids these days. Who knows.

    We're getting a taste of the 'empty nest' as he's on the mainland for cadet camp for 6 weeks. I miss him *sniff*...but I got over it a couple of minutes later!

  12. Gigi.. the empty nest time scares the shit out of me.. as sometimes I really wonder.. how I will feel.. if I am to be totally honest. I am going through a whole mid life crisis time at the moment screaming and kicking my way back to my youth.. and not winning.. obviously ..I do not want to be old.. or a couple without children as my kids make my life ..messy but they also make it make sense xx

  13. My husband I and will one day be required to be who we 'used' to be??? OMG! I can't REMEMBER who we used to be. I should have taken better notes. I can't breathe! Panic attack in three, two, one.... NOW!

  14. I can understand exactly why you feel the way you do. My first will be leaving next year...and I know that time flies and before I know it it will be the 'baby'. xx

  15. Oh you will have plenty to do .....believe me:))

    My list is still not caught up!