An Empty Nest is for the Birds

As you may recall, my family has invoked a gag rule of sorts when it comes to me writing about them in this blog. This creates truly a lose-lose-lose situation. First of all, it’s your loss, faithful readers, because if I were permitted to describe to you in detail everything that has really been happening in my family over the past month or so, you would be literally LOL’ing and ROFL’ing, plus you’d be sitting on the edge of your seat anxiously awaiting what happens next; in short, you’d be majorly entertained. And, perhaps most of all, you’d be left feeling pretty good about whatever is happening in your own life in comparison. So, I’m sorry I cannot provide you with that particular kind of joy right now.

It’s also my own loss because Lord knows I would feel better if I could vent a little bit to the entire world, or at least to all 65 of my official followers, even the complete strangers, not to mention the hundred or so people this will reach on Facebook. (Which is, I suppose, what my family is so concerned about…)

And speaking of my family, this silly gag rule they’ve instituted hurts them most of all. It truly is their loss, because if I were free to write about anything and everything that goes on in our family, I could almost certainly put together the most entertaining, unbelievable, hilarious, bestselling memoir of all time. And Hollywood would soon come knocking, looking for the movie rights to that bestseller. Thus, by instituting the gag rule, my family is depriving themselves of potentially millions of dollars, not to mention the chance to find out who would really play them in a movie.

But, gag rule or no, here’s a heavily redacted version of what’s going on with one family member, at least… My youngest son just graduated from high school two days ago. Which means my husband and I are on the verge of the dreaded “empty nest.” We’re getting a little sneak peek at what that is going to look like right now, as this particular son has headed out of town for some completely ridiculous tradition known as “senior week,” in which a bunch of newly-graduated 18-year-olds head to the beach to spend a week away from their parents, being completely responsible for themselves for probably the first time in their lives, getting a foretaste of college life and all the debauchery and newfound freedoms that go with it. What could possibly go wrong??

Gag rules prohibit me from going into too much detail about how youngest son even finagled his way into this situation; I’ll just say that I have been through this before with eldest son and I hate this so-called tradition with every fiber of my being, but when the young man is 18 and can easily fund the entire trip with the wads of cash that came inside every graduation card that arrived during the past week alone — there’s not a whole lot I can do about it.

But the fact is, he’s only been gone for one day, and… I miss him. It just is really hitting home that very soon he’s going to be moving out of our house and into a dorm, and, although he’ll be close to home and we expect to see him a lot, and although he’ll be back for school breaks, etc., home will never, ever be the same. And this is a very depressing thought. I actually feel almost inconsolably sad, despite the fact that this kid has spent the past several weeks doing everything in his power to make his leaving seem a bit more palatable. I’m not kidding. Although he was somewhat difficult as a child, as a teenager, he’s really been a good kid, almost completely drama-free. It seems he saved up all of his teenage drama and rebellion for the last 3 weeks of high school. And that’s really all I believe the gag rule will permit me to say about that at this point.

So, for the past 4 months of high school, Son2 did not have access to a parking permit. (That’s a long story that passes the gag rule test, but is just not interesting enough to share here.) As a result of this lack of parking permit, I drove the kid to and from school every day for the past 4 months—because, God Forbid a high school senior get caught dead riding on a school bus… This arrangement was honestly a real pain in the ass for me. I had to arrange all meetings and interviews around this drop-off and pick-up schedule and deal with the annoyances of the drop-off line, just like the old preschool days. But you know what? I loved doing it. I loved that time with my teenage son held captive in the passenger seat, when there was absolutely no way he could avoid talking to me. We actually had some very good conversations in that time. I’d give some examples, but, you know. Gag rule.

Anyway, I’m going to miss that.

Tonight, my husband and I ate dinner at the kitchen counter rather than at the kitchen table, with the TV turned on —normally an absolute no-no during family dinners. And looking ahead, I foresee a million more of those kinds of dinners in our future, with an ever-diminishing amount of dinners around the kitchen table with the family. And that is kind of a tough concept to accept.

There are a lot of little things like that that are really sucky about the idea of an empty nest, and if I keep thinking about them right now, I’ll be a blubbery mess. And frankly, enough has been written on this topic by other neurotic moms facing this stage of life. Believe me, I know this because all of those articles are showing up in my newsfeed about 10 times a day right now. I don’t need to add to that noise.

So on a positive note: with one kiddo having already flown the nest, I know that what lies ahead is actually really nice and exciting and fun. Watching your kid grow into a functioning adult and a decent human being is super rewarding. And I know my husband and I will ultimately enjoy our own newfound freedoms, and there is a lot to look forward to. But just for today, I’m going to allow myself to wallow in the sucky parts of this empty nest crap. Even if it is just a preview.

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