I’ve got a secret to tell you. You know what the empty nest really is? It’s a big old never-ending Monday morning quarterback session and it sucks
When my youngest left for college I wasn’t one of those weepy moms hanging out at the dorm dreading the goodbye. First of all it was hotter than the hinges of hell and anger is my only real emotion available in sweltering heat. There was a tense hug goodbye mostly due to the fact we both were stinky sweaty and he wasn’t appreciating my design on a dime lecture. By the end of the day I was on my way home to air conditioning and freedom.
How I would fill my time was not a worry I entertained. Hell, I had a list titled Freedom Sweet Freedom that was a mile long. I wasn’t short on plans for the future and the top three were writing, sex with the door open and leaving the liquor cabinet unlocked.
I envisioned myself in a very compromising position wearing nothing but pearls and balancing a martini.
But things didn’t quite work out as I had so eagerly anticipated.
It turns out without someone to parent I was stuck in a playback reel of my worst parenting moments. I ended up crying over scrapbooks while clutching my pearls and drinking straight from the bottle.
Would Michael go into the world scarred because I didn’t make him a hot breakfast every morning? I have Lisa Grodman to thank for that guilt. Damn breakfast cooking mother!
Did I talk to them enough about money and finances or would they end up homeless and bankrupt because I let them slide on that stupid summer math homework?
Would my children dread coming home for break and try to slip home with a cool kids family? Would they dread coming home because I was too nosey? Those are their words not mine; I like to think of myself as actively interested in the lives of my children.
Would they recall all those times that I hid in the van to have a moment’s peace? I vaguely remember threatening to sell our house and get a one room apartment if they didn’t get out from under my feet. I wish I had been more patient and realized one day they would be gone and I would be home alone drowning in vodka and nostalgia.
It just doesn’t seem fair that I have to spend my first days of quiet in 23 years filled with self doubt.
So yes, my nest is empty but my heart is full of regret.
I wish I had been more patient and tolerant.
I wish I had colored more and worried about my house less. I wish I had built more forts and played more Barbies.
I wish we had taken more adventures and road trips where the destination was unknown. I have Angela Youngblood to thank for that guilt. Damn spontaneous road tripping mother!
I wish I had taken time to talk to them, really talk to them more often about things that mattered and not just about the importance of a clean room. From the looks of their dorm rooms that time was clearly wasted.
I wish I had snuggled more and hugged them really hard every chance I got. The kind of hug where they knew I never wanted to let go.
But I did have to let go and there’s no getting back that time. My only redemption will be with the grandchildren I hope to have someday.
So I guess with all this regret and wishing swirling around in my brain it’s a good thing the liquor cabinet is all ready unlocked.
P.S. It’s really hard to relax and have great sex with the door open with all this time consuming regret. Go hug your kids!