E is for Empty Nest

drawing of bird's nestE is so sad.
E is Empty. Of a kid. That still lives at home, by the way, but still…some day! Empty! No kid at home!
I can’t even stand the thought.
So now, years ahead of time, I’m thinking forward, looking up, seeing the way ahead, and it’s as depressing as I feared before I accepted the internal nagging of my mean-to-me Self snarkily jeering, “Hey, your kid might have a life outside your walls.”
“Whaaaat? He will not,” I argued, even as my stupid Self interrupted with, “Ya-huh, will so.”
I gave up the fight early, knowing I’d lose, but not before I sighed one of those warbly, long-winded, gut-wrenching breathy gusts that only come from deep, deep inside, like from under the spleen somewhere. The whoosh made Self smile, a Cheshire cat kind of crappy grin that makes my spleen tremble.
(The spleen seems like a sad, dark, forlorn place, though I’ve not seen it. Even the word — “spleen” — ugh, it’s so weird; it must describe a desolate, cold, maternally-unhinged environment.)

But there are other “E” words, like:
Early preparation: find a hobby — now, today — requiring so much focus (laser-honed focus, like something dangerous perhaps: welding, bow hunting, knife-throwing) that I won’t remember I’m sad and alone and cooking for one. (Who am I kidding? Have I met me? Do I recognize stoves if they’re around? Raisin Bran it is! A second bowl? No problem! Pass the Netflix!)
Easy does it: be nice to me; I’m a mom of one. My Bubs’ future roommates will understand his mom’s need for constant phone interaction and act accordingly, never once mocking my boy for his constant reiterations of “I love you, too, Mom,” and who also won’t grin as my boy rolls his eyes at said roommate, who will nod knowingly and consider calling his own mother because Guilt is a harsh mistress.
Establish early: that all of his beloved tech possessions at the time of his departure will remain in my care, thus assuring he will return to my fold…because tech toys rule all for my Bubs, and if I have to hold something called Nintendo hostage, so be it. I’ll do it. Ransom is a weekend with his mother doting all over him with take-out and incessant nagging, “Please, oh, please, turn that thing off and talk to me.” Just like old times.

Look at me being proactive! Takin’ the bull by the horns, making my independent way in a non-son kind of world. I can do it! I’ll learn to tat! I’ll buy from QVC! I’ll sell things on Etsy! I’ll be so dang busy I won’t notice the silence when I walk through my door, I won’t miss the laundry, I won’t miss nightly chess games I may or may not win, or the stacks of Rick Riordan books in odd places all over the house. Nope, I won’t miss any of that…’cause I’ll be so, so busy…doin’ my Adulting thing, whatever in the world that may be.
Change is good! It’s great, in fact. And I need the challenge of the unknown, ’cause I’ve got the parenting thing down, over, a notch in my belt. All done. No more.
Movin’ on.

I’ve ignored my biggest E phrase: End on a high note. I learned it while going through a box of my grandmother’s things, in which I could not find a single smile. No photos of glee, no writings to amuse, no personality at all.
It was one of the biggest disappointments I’d experienced until then: my grandmother was not in the least bit happy.
So if you can leave a room with someone laughing — with you, not at you, unless that was your goal — do so. It’s the best ending.

(Momentarily I forgot my Empty nest scenario; I’ve remembered now. Insert the sounds of sobbing and one Kleenex after another Exiting its box.)