Friday, September 18, 2015

Remodeling the empty nest

You can thank me for the rain.

I was dancing the ‘happy dance,’ got carried away, flung my arms in the air and twirled around, singing “the hills are alive!” like Julie Andrews.  The rain came as an unintended consequence. 

Is it wrong that I dance behind the door?  Am I a bad person because I do the jig in the upstairs hallway in delirious anticipation of something that hasn’t even happened? 

Dear God, please let it happen!

Of course, I’m way out in front on this one.  But I can’t stop myself – the kid is going on job interviews!  Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!  Haa le-e looooo jah!

I know.  I should pace myself.  An interview does not a job make.  So sayeth Yoda.

Let’s play it out, Carolyn.  Take a deep breath:  He has to get the job first.  Exhale.

OK.  But, let’s say he gets the job. 

It’ll be a good job.  The kind that sorta makes me mad because he would be making more money at entry level than I made after 10 full years as a classroom teacher. 

But all right.  He gets the good job.  He still will need to stay here in that perfectly lovely bedroom which he’s transfigured into a dormitory laundry room hovel.  He’ll need to save a few months’ salary, fix that old truck so it runs; sell it and the wimpy girlie car his grandpa gave him; combine that money to buy an affordable, dependable babe-magnet form of transportation.  That’ll take time.

He’ll need first and last month’s rent and a security deposit.  By my calculations …

I know - I don’t match the PsychologyToday description of a parent facing empty nest syndrome.  By their definition the emotions attendant with the eminent departure of my grown up child would include loneliness and depression.

And that would not be me.  Oh I love the kid.  SO much.  But, no.  Not lonely or depressed at the prospect.

For one thing, it won’t be the first time he’s gone, if he goes.  He’s one of those ricochet kids you hear so much about. 

He left at 19 and ping-ponged around making funky forays into various scenarios, some of them star-crossed and others ill-fated.  Then he boomeranged, a bit forlorn but still a contender.  Still the sweet, smart, good-hearted, funny, handsome, single boy – er, young man – our hopes are pinned on.

And now, he’s completing his schooling – round two – and about to launch.  He’s flapping his fledgling wings.  He’s testing the waters.  He has his finger up, checking the wind.  He’s thinking of going.  He’ll go!  I just know it!  He’ll go!

So I’m following the advice of Psychology Today, the Mayo Clinic, Circle of Moms and Wikihow, getting myself ready for the inevitable impact of the kid’s exit. 

They pretty much agree on the basics for anxious parents who are fearful of the melancholy when they have no more children in the home to follow around behind, closing doors, turning off lights and handing money.

Oh!  Who will I buy groceries and toothpaste for, if not my spouse and myself?  Who will I remind to take the out trash, bring in the newspaper, unwad his clothes and put them away?

Who will tell me when I have bad breath?  Or that he’s out of shampoo or shaving cream or toilet paper? 

According to the empty nest gurus, I should take up a new hobby or schedule a massage.  Or plan a ritual of release!  Maybe I'll light a candle, chant “adieu” and waft the smoke into the corners of his room.

Sure.  I’ll miss the kid.  I will!  It’s been so sweet having him here and having it confirmed he’s a really good guy. 

I’ll gladly set up his kitchen with a rice cooker and crock pot and spices and dishes and hand-me-down pans.  I’ll call him on Thursdays and text on the weekend.  I’ll invite him to movies and he’ll never go and sit next to me with popcorn and elbow me at the good parts like he used to.

Uh oh.

A little sadness.  Some premature nostalgia.  But no worries – no job yet. 

Take your time Bud.  I can dance later.