The subject of my rant today is people "struggling" with the empty nest. I'm talking about deep, anguished writings by women who are trying to build a life outside of their children. Stuff like this (above) and throughout, which I've edited so that the original authors can't be identified.
OMG, WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? I started raising children at 19, and if you don't count a couple of my ex husbands, and the hundreds of students I've taught, I've raised three of them. Three children, who have by and large kept me hostage while they took everything I ever tried to have for myself: my favorite flavors of special K -I found three empty boxes in Mini's room while cleaning out the old house, and I've spent the weekend scrubbing boot black off stairs. This would be from JROTC combat boots.
"...I find myself wandering to his room, where I sit on the edge of his bed and thoughts of him run through my mind..."
I also found candy wrappers and old socks behind nearly every piece of furniture in his room...and also throughout the house. (And do we condone this? We do not.) Then, I packed up the car and drove to our new house, where I have cereal that will stay UNTIL I EAT IT and where, when I go to get something, it will be exactly where I left it. The only messes to clean are the ones that I myself have created.
Which carries its own challenges. But, anyway.
Am I a terrible mother who hates kids? I don't think so. I used to think I was - I tried apologizing to my grown children for their inconsistent upbringing and for being so crazy, but they've both assured me that I wasn't a bad mother, e.b., You should see some of the mothers my friends have, and they call and email me often enough to where I feel pretty assured that they don't have "issues." At least not yet.
I'll just say it: I feel like I've been let out of PRISON. Maybe I put too much into motherhood; I don't know. I felt like my job was to raise kids to be healthy, responsible individuals who could take care of themself and not need me and move on to live their lives. I stopped trying to get some meaning or reward out of parenthood long ago. I was my job, and when I enjoyed it, that was a bonus. But now I'm done.
"...As my son packed his things, my heart ached. Only a mother could know the anguish of saying goodbye, giving him wings so that the struggling baby bird can soar. I want to grab his little beak and say 'come back to your safe, loving, nest'..."
Good lord. To my children: I love you, but if you're coming for a visit, I want to see a return ticket before I let you in the door.
I come home at night, pour a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, sit on a clean couch, and look out at the foothills. Sometimes I go for a walk. I enjoy a quiet supper with Sweet Baboo. I'm in awe that life can be this good, even, and calm--devoid of any drama except that which I care to add.
There is nobody for me to ferry to an event. There is nobody to shove several pieces of paper at me at 6:45 am for my signature and/or checks to write, nobody to drop dirty clothes and books on the floor or tell me tearfully at 8 pm that they have to have 2 pieces of white posterboard RIGHT NOW or they will FAIL.
I bet this is the part where she says she misses all that.
I have a plaster cast of someone's handprint (I can't remember who) with a little poem attached that has a line or two about how much I'll miss their dirty handprints some day. I don't. Maybe that makes me a bad mom, but, that's something I'll have to live with, I guess, while sipping my chocolate wine and planning my next vacation.
I sit in my living room , watch a movie with the man I love, and there are no interruptions. The stereo has not been blown, the TV doesn't have smudgy smears on it, the cats are calm, because nobody has chased them with a paper sword that day or tried to stuff them into a box. There is low-fat ranch for my salad because nobody drank it straight from the bottle. There is chocolate milk for my mocha lattes because nobody drank the entire carton while sitting in front of the TV WHERE THEY ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE EATING followed by putting the empty carton back into the refrigerator.
"...I miss having teenagers around...I would hear newest jokes and newest music. That has been the hardest....
The phone almost never rings, but when it does, it's for me, and it's not teachers or ex-spouses calling to let me know that my son or daughter is in trouble, failing a grade, or mouthing off to them. When the TV isn't on, I sit quietly and listen to music, or read.
I'm 44. Now my life begins.
"I guess I knew that it would be here sooner or later, like the terrible twos and the teenage years. Everybody goes through it, so why do I feel like my guts have been ripped out, thrown on the road, and run over by a truck?"
OMG, woman. Go for a run, or to spin class.