Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Three Weeks Later

This is the story of an old (~pseudo old~) married couple.  They met 28 years ago this month.  Four years after they met, they married.  A year after that had their first child, and four years after that their last.

Fast forward 24 years to the present.  Their boys are grown and at college.  They will come back on weekends and breaks, but for all intents and purposes, this couple is now an empty nest couple.

They have spent the last 24 years going to field trips and school sings, baseball practices and football games.  They went to conferences, until they realized that they didn't need to any longer because their boys were doing their homework.  They coached soccer and baseball teams.  They helped with homework and projects.  They picked out school clothes when the boys were younger, and handed over cash when they were older.  They watched when their youngest was in the hospital after a biking accident, and their youngest in the hospital he took a baseball to the face.  They've been their through surgeries and recoveries. They have been their through successes and defeat.  They witnessed their firstborn get his first tattoo (after a broken leg), his second (after recovery) and third (for his brother and their heritage). They saw their youngest accept an all conference nod, and scholarships from an alum of his chosen college who also happens to be his brother.

It's been 20 days since the youngest left for campus, nine days since the oldest left as well.  We have seen both of them multiple times in these last 20 days...the perks of having a campus so close to home.

Life as they know it has changed.  Dinners have been quicker to make (thinking two burgers and a salad, instead of six burgers, a salad, mac n cheese, pickles, chips and dip) or opting to go out instead; laundry is relatively painless; and the house has been quiet.  There are no boys upstairs gaming, or rough-housing.  Their dogs tried to sleep on their beds when they left, but end up in the couples room, most likely wondering when their brothers are coming home.  The nights laying in bed is often eerily quiet as there are no noises coming from their bedroom as the couple drifts off to sleep.

There have been phone calls and texts, and no doubt there will be more.  But there hasn't been good night hugs and kisses, when in reality who is to expect those from a 22 and 18 year old anyway?  (This mom...that's who).

Things will continue to evolve as this empty nest syndrome takes hold.  Trips to the cottage will be two people, two dogs, instead of the entire family.  Rooms will be cleaned and remain spotless until there is that one surprise visit.  Then chaos will ensue and the rooms will wait to be cleaned again, the couch cushions will have to be fluffed, the meals will be seven course, the laundry will pile up, the dogs will perk up, and this mom will get her hugs and kisses.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

An Almost Empty Nest

Well that's it.  The boys have moved into school.  Their rooms have been emptied and it looks like a ghost town in our basement.  Pillows are gone, Xbox's no longer light up the night and we don't hear them talking at 11:00 before bed.

We are lucky.  We will see our kids often before Christmas break.  We have the luxury of going to Saturday football games and being able to take them out to dinner after the win's.  We will see them for fall break, and rivalry week and for deer hunting.  

It is still like a ghost town in our house.  There are no creaky chairs moving on the second floor, or kids coming down at 9:30 to forage before bed.  There is no gently waking them before work in the morning (me, not my husband).  There have been mixed messages from friends that can't believe we can handle this...that their lifeblood is pretty much their children and they have no idea how we can handle not just one, but two kids gone.  Then the others that say give it a few weeks and it will be good.  Then the others that say fuck yeah, your free.

Frankly, I don't want to be free.  I like cooking for our kids.  I like watching Packer games on Sunday afternoon and the Walking Dead on Sunday nights.  I like the texts at noon asking what is for dinner and the "I love you's" before bed.

Now it's just different. Dinner last night took about five minutes to make and another five to eat.  There were no recounts of how the work day went because my husband and I talk throughout the day.  There were no tales of what went down at the playground for our youngest or what cool project our oldest worked on.

So why do I say this an almost empty nest?  Our kids will come back.  There will be those quick visits home, and four breaks a year. The oldest will move out, the youngest still has four years of college.  Some of our friends have kids that didn't go to school. That once they hit 18 or 19 they moved out on their own.  They are working jobs and want to get started on life.  Some moved into apartments, and some bought houses.  Others have kids that flew clear across the country to go to school or even across the ocean the serve our country.  Those parents might only see their kids once every few months.  I'm clinging to the fact that I will see ours a little more often, at least for the time being.

I don't foresee much will change.  It isn't like we were having family game nights or spending all our free time together.  We are just a normal family.  Two parents, two kids, two dogs.  We all have our own hobbies; we are tired after work; we eat meals together; we go on vacation together; and we are there when we need each other.

The empty nest syndrome is just a state of mind.  Although they aren't under the same roof right now, they know where home is.  It makes it a little easier to know they are together for this next semester.  And for the record, it's easier for me; they are brothers and could be across the country from each other and they would be fine.

Monday, August 1, 2016

What Makes This Mom of Boys Tick

I'll admit it.  I'm a wreck.  On the inside.  And a little on the outside.  Well a whole lot on the outside.  Maybe its the start of menopause.  Maybe its the baby leaving in 10 days.  Maybe it's the fact that no matter what I do or say, it never seems good enough any more.

Mom's of boys will relate.  When a son leaves his dad, that dad will still have his hunting buddy and his fishing buddy, and his watching horror movies partner.  When a son leaves his mom, she loses the one person she can take care of that appreciates home cooking, bandaids on booboo's, late night talks, and being needed.  Even if it means your son needs his green mids washed on a Thursday night at 10 pm for a Friday game.  Or that you need to run back to the store to pick up that one thing you forgot for his favorite cookies.  You were the one person in his life that would be there unconditionally, be their biggest fan and greatest allie, and the person they could count on.  It's not to say that dad's don't have that too, it's just different.

As we approach college move in day, I've come to the realization that life doesn't have to stop when your kids leave the nest.  I went through this four years ago when our oldest headed off to his first year of college, and had varying episodes of sadness/elation every year after.

I'm not sad that our youngest will be gone.  I know that we will see him virtually every weekend through mid November for his football games, and then after that the end of the semester will be here and he'll be home for a month.  We will text (I hope), and talk (please call), when he has time.  I will offer up editing of papers if necessary and his dad will be there if something goes wrong on his truck.

I'm not sad that our oldest is leaving too, a few days later, because I know that his journey is nearly over and he'll be moving on to the next phase of his life.

I'm sad that they grew up too fast.  It's a parents job to prep their child for the real world, or maybe be a barrier so their child doesn't turn into an asshole.  You spend 18 years prepping them to move away.  The lucky ones get them for more than 22, but life definitely changes once they are on their own, even if it is at college.

I am sad I won't get daily hugs and kisses and thank yous for making their lunch or favorite dinner on a Tuesday night.  I'm sad I won't be able to sit with them after practice while they eat dinner at 8 pm.

You send them with what they need, like Tylenol and sports cream, heating pads and enough socks to make it until the next time they are home.  But you are never really prepared that they actually can do their laundry, or make a meal, or remember to call their sibling on their birthday.  You aren't prepared to cook for two instead of four.  You aren't prepared to shop for fewer groceries.  And you aren't prepared that when you go into the freezer for a chocolate covered caramel ice cream cone that it will actually be there.

I don't know what it would be like to be the mother of daughters.  I know I was a handful, but not overly so.  I got away with a lot being the 5th of five kids so maybe by the time I was ready for college, my parents just were tired and wanted me out.  I wouldn't have made a good mom of girls.  Too many dance lessons, hair ties, prom dresses and drama.

I'll take my boys any day.