Half Empty (But Still Rather Full)

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I’ve had a crash course this week in being a half-empty nester.  Chloe left Sunday for the U.S., not to return until some future college break– maybe Christmas, unless we all decide to spend Christmas in the U.S.  Then Clay left on Wednesday morning for a regular kind of business trip– three nights away, returning on Saturday morning.

So it’s been the Littles– Claire and Quinn– and me for the last few days.  What’s strangest of all, maybe, is that because they are not in school right now, we have absolutely no commitments.  We could stay in our pajamas all day and never leave the house.  We could stay out of the house all day and eat every meal out (it’s so CHEAP with only the 3 of us!).  We could stay up all night watching movies, and then sleep all day.  I could neglect to load the dishwasher at night, leave the clean laundry in a pile at the foot of my bed, let shoes build up by the front door until no one can either come or go.

No, I haven’t done these things, not exactly… but maybe bits of them.  Conscience intervenes, you see.  I can’t keep the children in the house an entire day– even if it is raining (but I can let them stay in their pajamas until way past lunch sometimes).  I don’t even want to eat every meal out with the kids (ever watchful of table manners, preventing spills and other catastrophes, and managing bathroom trips alone? no thanks.)  Nix the all-night movie fest, too– we do that on the last day of school, and it takes the rest of the week to recover.  As for the housekeeping?  I hate having piles of laundry in my room (they just get all crumpled and it’s harder to fold them later), and the dishwasher really has to run at night (there’s nothing like coming up for coffee with a clean kitchen!).  There are shoes by the door, though.  Lots of them.  Also mail and umbrellas.

The thing is, all that freedom of having no adult supervision– or at least teen supervision– really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  And I guess maybe I’ve grown up a bit myself over the last 19 years– contrary to all expectations.  Bother.  So where do I find my fun, now that Chloe isn’t here to chat at night, watch a movie with me, or go to a cafe with me (and the littles, of course)?  When Clay’s out of town, there’s no one to handle the TV remote and find old NCIS episodes, stream Modern Family from his iPad, or just talk about things.  And there are no Malteasers in the house.

But hang on.  My mothering instincts must be intact, because I’ve just realized I’ve already been subconsciously working on this problem!  While other, “good” parents spend time reviewing math and working on reading skills in the summer, I’ve been helping my kids learn to play Rock Band on the Wii.  (Oh, alright, we’ll do a math page later!)  We pulled the instruments out of the utility closet last weekend– out of all the things we left in storage in the U.S., we brought Rock Band??  But obviously I knew what I was doing with that– because you don’t know summer fun until you’ve jammed out “Dead or Alive” or “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” with your kids!  Quinn’s got the drums, Claire’s the vocals, and I am obviously the guitar queen.  We’ve got some work to do, but you know, we’ll get there.

Classic Rock, with Paula on drums, Will on vocals, and Chloe on lead guitar.

So hey, my nest isn’t feeling so empty now.  We’ve still got enough kids around to cover the parts.  We might even have to go out and buy the bass guitar if Clay wants to play, too.  But even while I work on making this new nest situation work, I’ll be remembering my big kids so far away.  All my kids are Rock Stars, of course.  But Will and Chloe are the classics.  Love you guys!

8 thoughts on “Half Empty (But Still Rather Full)

  1. Wow – G & G in Ohio cannot wait for your arrival; but must issue travel warning to recall the quietness of our little town, lest you lapse into culture shock (or the lack thereof).

  2. This is way to close to home – so I’m going to bury my head in the sand and pretend it isn’t happening to me. The younger girls are clamoring for one of them to get Kevin’s room (currently they share) and I just don’t think I can bear to take down his baseball banner collection, the signed Adam Wainwright photo or his autographed jersey. It was traumatic enough when the Albert Pujols fathead had to come off the wall earlier this year. Can’t imagine all the baseball memorabilia being in the attic. Maybe I can draw strength from your courage. Do you have any to spare?

    • Courage? I am not exactly the poster child, my friend! I would say I’m a bit like Dorothy’s cowardly lion. And if I keep having to leave little pieces of my heart all over the continent, I will be exactly like the tin man without a heart. Let’s not even talk about the scarecrow and his brain, OK? I’m feeling like a one-woman show here. Me, calling backstage, “HEY! WHERE are those DANG ruby slippers! Hand ’em over, or Glinda gets wet, too!”

      Seriously, though. Just coming off of two weeks in our hometown. I drove by your old house the other day, and I’ve seen a few of our old friends (Sue, Emily, JIll). Sometimes I can barely believe we are the grownups– let alone that our kids are becoming grownups.

      On the upside, did you hear about the Defiance area family who found the old baseball cards in their attic? Expected to go at auction for around $3million. So go ahead and stick Kevin’s stuff in the attic– maybe you will be providing for your great grandkids!

      • Oh…I hope you had a great time at our old stomping grounds. Haven’t driven by the old house for eons. So strange to see it.

        My courage waned this week. Kevin contracted an eye infection that he can’t seem to get cleared up – which culminated with a trip to Jax to see a cornea specialist. Still not out of the woods, but under the specialist care. Not sure what’s up with that kid, but I don’t relish the idea of him seeing to his own health care crises. Worst case scenarios keep running through my head.

        I did hear about the Defiance area family. Crazy. I’m pretty sure Kevin won’t forget about his memorabilia, so I think the great grands are out of luck.

    • Sorry for such a delayed reply, but I’ve been living as a teenager at my parents house for the last 2 weeks! Alas, it’s not sustainable… but I’ve had a good go at it. Reading always trumps housework in my book– (not sure if that pun was intended or not). At least I can look forward to catching up with all my favorite blogs now that I’m returning to being a semi-responsible adult.

      • Barging in here…sorry. While I didn’t love being a teen, I do wish I had appreciated the freedom to sneak away with a book and devour the thing in a day. I distinctly remember hoping my mom wouldn’t notice I was awol and so wouldn’t ask me to do some chore around the house that would interrupt a chapter. Now, as a mom, I can hardly bring myself to interrupt a child engrossed in a book. Gee, if only they would afford me that same courtesy. Oh…wait…it’s because they think they have to eat dinner. every. single. night. Oh, bother!

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