The Emptying Nest
I was talking to a fellow parent of a child off to college yesterday. She asked me how it was going and I said, I miss Ben. I miss his sassy commentary, his whirlwind through the house. I keep looking in the refrigerator, expecting to find something with a single bite out of it.
He always took a single bite out of pretty much everything. Incredibly annoying but better than peeing on things to mark his territory.
She said, Yeah, well, you have back up children.
It's true, I have two more children. No empty nest here. This same person once referred to my other children as the "do overs." You know, you screw up on the first one and get a do over on the next two.
Sad, but true. There was once a time in history when the first born got all the privilege. Now, they get all the mistakes of brand new parents. Of course, you used to have a lot of children because they were economic benefits. They were additional free labor, minus the piece of bread you tossed them.
Not so much anymore. Costs me five bucks to have Jake mow the lawn. And they would throw the piece of bread right back at me, telling me they wanted it lightly toasted with butter, please.
The other two, while learning to spread their wings in the newly available space. It's been a delight to see them shift into new roles. Mostly a delight. They have both decided that drinking straight from whatever container in the refrigerator is their way of marking territory.
Of course, I've never taken a single bite and returned the item to the refrigerator, nor drank straight from the container. If I did, I would have to claim insanity from living with so much testosterone.
While there are fewer dishes to do, I miss the camaraderie of the three of them. I get tremendously sentimental, thinking of what it will be like when they are all out of the house. The way they interact will never be the same again. I want to put on Sarah McLachlan, "I Will Remember You" and cry.
Then I hear that Ben texted his brothers on their first day of school. My heart melts. Turn up the volume, get the tissues. (Unless no one is looking, then just use the inside of your tee shirt.) Until I hear they both texted back the same thing- Fuck You! I realize, it's not changed all that much. They are a tight band of brothers. Nothing will change that core.
I appreciate those who have only one child means everything happens at once. There is no process of change. One day, the house is simply empty. I'm lucky to have five more years before a truly empty nest is upon me. Of course, by then? Ben will have graduated and considering the economic realities for college graduates? The refrigerator will have plenty of one bite items in it.